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prive them of this much-talked-of responsibility, which means nothing, would be to deprive them of the power to which they cling — of the right of meddling interference with every petty question and every petty appointment in thirty-six different Colonies. While things remain as they are, the very uncertainty which reigns over the whole Colonial system invests the Secretary of State with a degree of power and influence, the dim and shadowy outline of which can scarcely be measured by the eye; but which, from its almost boundless extent, and multiform and varied ramifications and relations, possesses a fascination which few men have been born with the patriotic moderation to resist. Though a Secretary of State may occasionally have to maintain, in a particular Province, a doubtful struggle for the whole responsibility and the whole of the power, with some refractory Governor, like Sir Francis Head; yet even there he must exercise a good deal of authority, and enjoy a fair share of influence; while in all others his word is law, and his influence almost supreme. A judge, a crown officer, a secretary, or a land surveyor, cannot be appointed without his consent; a silk gown cannot be given to a lawyer without his sanction; while his word is required to confirm the nomination of Legislative Councillors for life, and irresponsible Executive Councillors, in every Province, before the Queen's mandamus is prepared. The very obscurity in which the real character of Colonial Constitutions is involved, of course magnifies the importance and increases the influence of the gentleman who claims the right to expound them. · More than one half the Colonists who obtain audiences in Downing Street, are sent there by the mystifications in which the principles of the system are involved; while the other half are applicants for offices, which, under a system of local responsibility, would be filled up, as are the civic offices in Manchester and Glasgow, by the party upon whose virtue and ability the majority of the inhabitants relied. Adopt Lord Durham's principle, and, above all, give to each Colony a well defined Constitution based upon that principle and embodied in a bill, and "the office” will become a desert. The scores of worthy people, with spirits weary of the anomalous and cruel absurdities of the system, and sincerely laboring to remove them, now daily lingering in the anti-rooms, would be better employed elsewhere, in adorning and improving the noble countries which gave them birth, and whose freedom they are laboring to establish ; while at least an equal number of cunning knaves, whose only errand is to seek a share of the plunder, had much better be transferred to the open arenas in which, under a system of responsibility, public honors and official emolument could only be won. But then the office of Colonial secretary would be shorn of much power, which, how
ever unwisely exercised, it is always delightful to possess ; the dim but majestic forms of authority which now overshadow half the world, would be chastened into reasonable compass; with boundaries, if less imposing and picturesque, for all practical purposes more simple and clearly defined. Nor would under secretaries and clerks have so many anxious and often fawning visitors, soliciting their patronage, listening to their twaddle, wondering at their ignorance, and yet struggling with each other for their smiles. The mother country would, it is true, hear less of Colonial grievances; Parliament would save much time now devoted to Colonial questions; and the people of England would now and then save a few millions sterling, which are required to keep up the existing system by force of arms. But these are small matters compared with the dig. nity of a Secretary of State.
Here, then, my Lord, you have the reason why your reading of our Constitutions is the favorite one in Downing Street. Let us see, now, whether it is more or less favorable to rational freedom and good government in the Colonies, than that alvocated by Sir Francis Head. Your authority and that of Lord Glenelg is with me in condemning his, which I have done, as deceptive and absurd; he will probably join me in denouncing yours, as the most impracticable that it ever entered into the mind of a statesman to conceive.
The city of Liverpool shall again serve us for the purposes of illustration. Turn back to the passages in which I have described a Mayor, ignorant of every thing, surrounded by irresponsible but cunning advisers; who, for their own advantage, embroil him with a majority of the citizens, while his countenance, and the patronage created by the taxes levied upon the city, are monopolized by a miserable minority of the whole; and insulted and injured thousands, swelling with indignation, surround him on every side. After Your Lordship has dwelt upon this scene of heartburning and discontent- of general dissatisfaction among the citizens of miserable intrigue and chuckling triumph, indulged by the few who squander the resources and decide on the interests of the many, but laugh at their murmurs and never acknowledge their authority — let me beg of you to reflect whether matters would be made better or worse, if the Mayor of Liverpool was bound, in every important act of his administration, to ask the direction of, and throw the responsibility on another individual, who never saw the city, who knows less about it than even himself, and who resides, not in London, at the distance of a day's coaching from him, but across the Atlantic, in Halifax, Quebec, or Toronto, and with whom it is impossible to communicate about any thing within a less period than a couple of months. Suppose that this gentleman in the distance possesses a veto upon every important ordinance by which the city is to be watched, lighted and improved — by which docks are to be formed, trade regulated, and one-third of the city revenues (drawn from sources beyond the control of the popular branch) dispensed. And suppose that nearly all whose talents or ambition lead them to aspire to the higher offices of the place, are compelled to take, once or twice in their lives, a voyage across the Atlantic, to pay their court to him - to solicit his patronage, and intrigue for the preferment, which, under a better system, would naturally result from manly competition and eminent services within the city itself. Your Lordship is too keen sighted, and I trust too frank, not to acknowledge that no form of government could well be devised more ridiculous than this ; that under such no British city could be expected to prosper; and that with it no body of Her Majesty's subjects, within the British islands themselves, would ever be content. Yet this, my Lord, is an illustration of your own theory; this is the system propounded by Lord Normanby, as the best the present cabinet can devise. And may I not respectfully demand, why British subjects in Nova Scotia, any more than their brethren in Liverpool, should be expected to prosper or be contented under it; when experience has convinced them that it is miserably insufficient and deceptive, repugnant to the principles of the Constitution they revere, and but a poor return for the steady loyalty which their forefathers and themselves have maintained on all occasions ?
One of the greatest evils of the Colonial Constitution, as interpreted by Your Lordship, is, that it removes from a Province every description of responsibility, and leaves all the higher functionaries at liberty to lay every kind of blame at the door of the Secretary of State. The Governor, if the Colonists complain, shrugs his shoulders, and replies, that he will explain the difficulty in his next dispatch, but in the mean time his orders must be obeyed. The Executive Councillors, who under no circumstances are responsible for any thing, often lead the way in concentrating the ire of the people upon the Colonial Secretary, who is the only person they admit their right to blame. It is no uncommon thing to hear them, in Nova Scotia, sneering at him in public debate; and in Canada they are accused of standing by while Lords Glenelg and Melbourne were hanged in effigy, and burned in the capital, encouraging the populace to pay this mark of respect to men, who, if Your Lordship's theory is to be enforced, these persons, at all events, should have the decency to pardon, if they cannot always defend.
I trust, my Lord, that in this letter I have shown you, that in contemplating a well-defined and limited degree of responsibility to attach to Executive Councillors in North America, I have more strictly followed the analogies to be drawn from the Constitution, than has Your Lordship, in supposing that those officers would necessarily overstep all bounds; that, in divesting the Governor of a vague and deceptive description of responsibility, which is never enforced, and of a portion of authority which it is impossible for him wisely to exercise, and yet holding him to account for what does fall within the scope of his character as Her Majesty's representative-- the constitutional analogy is still preserved, his dignity left unimpaired, and the difficulties of his position removed. I trust also that I have proved to Your Lordship that the Colonial Constitutions, as they at present stand, are but a medley of uncertainty and confusion ; that those by whom they are administered do not understand them; and lastly, that whether Sir Francis Head's interpretation or your own be adopted, neither offer security for good government: the contest between them merely involving a difference of opinion as to who is to wield powers that neither governors nor secretaries can usefully assume, and which of these officers is nominally to bear the blame of blunders that both are certain to commit.
MY LORD, — The next passage of the speech of the 3d of June, which I am bound to notice, is that in which you say :
“ The Governor might ask the Executive Council to propose a certain measure. They might say they could not propose it unless the members of the House of Assembly would adopt it, but the Governor might reply that he had received instructions from home commanding him to propose that measure. How, in that case, is he to proceed ? Either one power or the other must be set aside; either the Governor or the House of Assembly, or else the Governor must become a mere cypher in the hands of the Assembly; and not attempt to carry into effect the measures which he is commanded by the home government to do.”
This objection is based upon the assumption, that the interests of the mother country and those of the Colonies are not the same; that they must be continually, in a state of conflict; and that there must be some course of policy necessary for the Imperial government to enforce, the reasons for which cannot be understood in the Colonies, nor its necessity recognized. This may have been the case formerly in the West Indies, where the conflict was one between the ideas engendered by a state of slavery and a state of freedom; but it is not true of the North American Provinces, to the condition and claims of which my observations are chiefly confined. Of all the questions which have agitated or are likely to agitate Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, or Prince Edward Island, how few, when rightly understood, can be said to involve any Imperial interest; or trench upon any principle dear to our brethren at home, or the concession of which could disturb the peace of the Empire ? Have any of these Colonies claimed a right to regulate the foreign trade or foreign policy of the Empire? Have they ever interfered, except to carry out the views of Her Majesty's government, with any of the military or naval operations? Have they exposed a grievance, the continued existence of which is indispensible to the well-being of the British Islands; or demanded a right, the concession of which would not be serviceable to themselves, without doing the least injury to the people of Britain ? For what have they asked ? For the control of their own revenues, and the means of influencing the appointment and acts of the men who are to dispense them; and who are, besides, to distribute hundreds of petty offices, and discharge functions manifold and various within the Colony itself. The people of England have no knowledge of these matters, nor any interest in them, to give them the right to interfere. Interference does much mischief to the Colonists, and can do no good to their brethren across the water. If British statesmen would let these things alone — and it is over these only that we claim to enforce responsibility — and confine themselves to those general arrangements affecting the whole Empire, of which we admit them to be the best judges, and in the conduct of which we never asked to take a part, it would be impossible to conceive how such a case could arise as that supposed by Your Lordship; or how the Governor could be charged with “a measure which his Executive Council would not dare to propose.” Admitting that there might be some subjects requiring discussion in the Provinces, but which the Colonists were not prepared to adopt, surely an Executive Councillor could be got, even if he were opposed to the views of ministers, to submit the measure and explain those views to the popular branch; or might there not be “open questions” in the Colonies as at home?
The conclusion at which my mind arrives, then, after the best attention that I can give to this branch of the subject, is, that if the duties and responsibilities of government are fairly and judiciously divided between the Imperial and Colonial authorities, no such case as that assumed by Your Lordship can occur; and, if it should, surely the good sense of all