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to wait, to bide his time, is the Governor to work out responsible government. In saying this I am tresspassing largely on your patience ; but no man can suspect me of not being a friend to responsible government. I now say this in frankness and sincerity ; not because Lord Elgin is Governor General, but because he is a human being who has been unfairly pressed upon. During the last four years, working out the problem of responsible government, he did nothing more than he did, because there was nothing more to do.
Alluding to his own position he said :
When I contrast this scene before me with my lonely chamber in Sloane Street, where I endeavored to interpret the feelings and views of the North American Colonies, without any authority from British North America ; I cannot but be deeply sensible of the difference of the two positions, and delighted with the spectacle before me.
The father, in classic story, whose three sons had gained three Olympic prizes in the same day, felt it was time to die. But, having gained the confidence of three noble Provinces, I feel that it is time to live. In London, in the midst of a population of two million, all boiling with excitement, and intent on their own interests, it fell to my lot to interpret the interests of British North America. I had no clue to guide, no friend to advise me; no Canadian or New Brunswicker to aid me in consultation. What did I do? I remembered that Sterne had said that man's mind is never interested in a mass of misery. A thousand shiver with cold or die with plague, and no man sympathizes with them ; but if you take a single individual and consider his sufferings, you are sure to understand what humanity must feel. Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, were all distant from me; but I looked into my own heart; I knew what I felt, and I interpreted your feelings by my own.
The speech at Quebec is the best, or perhaps was the most carefully reported. We give it as it appears in the Quebec papers :
Mr. Mayor and Gentlemen, - Ten years ago I passed a delightful week in this city. I have since travelled much in the old world and the new, but I have never forgotten the scenery nor the hospitality of Quebec. In returning to it again there is but one drawback of which I am conscious, -I fear your expectations have been too highly raised. I have no eloquence to display, as a morning paper kindly anticipates, for if I have had any success in life, it has arisen from the unadorned simplicity with which I have spoken plain common sense to masses of people. But if I were all that my friend imagines, there is inspiration here in every thing which surrounds me. Here the great Creator has himself been most eloquent, stamping his sublime and original conceptions on the bold promontories and mountain ranges around us ; and pouring into the beautiful vales they enclose or diversify, rivers, whose magnificent proportions never weary, whose sonorous music elevates the soul. Yet it is not from the works of nature alone that a poet or an orator might here catch inspiration ; he might catch it from the moral aspect of Quebec, from its noble educational and charitable institutions, from the arts of life successfully cultivated, the social virtues well illustrated and preserved; and from the pleasing variety, which, to a stranger's eye is so attractive, afforded by the commingling of races once hostile and distinct.
With this opening, Mr. Howe at once turned to the Railroad. Being at Montreal he had not thought it courteous to the people of this city to leave the St. Lawrence without paying them a visit, not that any personal compliment was desired, or any demonstration necessary. Quebec had already spoken. She did not wait for Halifax to speak. His foot had hardly touched his native soil, after a winter's work in England, when he found himself surrounded by obstructions; the unanimous declaration of support from Lower Canada at once relieved his mind, and as to the certainty of the accomplishment of the railroad, he could now relieve theirs. Some might imagine that there had been at the seat of government difficulties to overcome; some intricate or delicate negotiation to conduct. This was not the case. The Governor General and the Cabinet required no reasoning to convince them. Their policy, conceived with boldness, was avowed without reserve. It was to aid in completing the line from Halifax to Quebec and Montreal, and concentrate the energies of Canada that that line might be carried to Detroit. Mr. Howe explained the nature of the difficulties which had arisen in New Brunswick, the steps which had been taken to remove them, and the grounds of the belief which he entertained, that they would be speedily overcome. The legislators of that Province had acted under the impression that the Portland line had been abandoned. On the contrary it was provided for. They thought that imperial commissioners were to expend money as they pleased, while the expenditure was left to the Provincial governments or any commissioners that might be appointed by them all. His friend, Mr. Chandler, had returned home, confident that the coöperation of New Brunswick would be secured. To Nova Scotia the question would be presented by a dissolution without delay.
The importance I attach to this railroad can only be measured by the value I set upon our connection with the mother country, and upon our material and social elevation as a people. I look into the heart of any young man here, I care not of wbat race or origin - there is a void in it — a feeling of uneasiness a sense of something wanting? All our troubles have sprung from this source. This void must be filled; this feeling must be removed. Every young British American must feel that he has got a country, and that that country has got a policy, clear as a sunbeam, and that can be honorably avowed in the face of day. The railroad will change the whole tone of the North American mind. A young Nova Scotian now drifts off to Boston or New York, takes a sail up the Hudson, or a ride over a few miles of railroad, and comes back wondering at the great country he has seen. Put the same youth upon a railroad and drive him fourteen hundred miles through his own noble country, and what would he say then? Put him into an ocean omnibus, and let him see that great metropolis, which twenty of the largest American cities expanded together cannot equal, and what would he feel ? Pride in the glories of the Empire would spring up from their contemplation, and when the noble country which God has given us here can be traversed and comprehended, the void in our hearts will be filled; indeed we can then turn to a field of labor, boundless in extent, and offering to the able and the emulous the excitement which elevates, and the rewards which should crown honorable exertion.
Mr. Howe explained that the railway would not stop at Quebec or Montreal. It would soon extend west of Hamilton, from whence to Detroit the Great Western was in course of construction. The American lines would soon connect us with the Mississippi, so that continuous railways would follow the line of the old French forts. No financier, no merchant, however skilful, could calculate the value of such a communicátion. It had been truly said, that the cost of railways was nothing to the cost of doing without them. But it may be said, that this road, however valuable, will cost too much, will burthen our resources, is beyond
Here the honorable gentleman drew a pictu e of the old Colonies at the close of the Revolutionary war - their inland towns destroyed, their seaports battered, their credit worse than nothing. From that condition they had risen, prospered, and drawn into their bosom an immense amount of capital from Europe, and with it Europe's surplus population. They had not been afraid to assume responsibilities and to complete great public works. Shall we not follow their example? Shall we be content to envy what we have not the enterprise to imitate. But what are we called upon to do? To bear the burthen of a foreign or a civil war? No, sir, but, under the flag that has ever waved above us for a century, with the smile of our sovereign resting upon our labors, to create a great work of peace. The railroads of the United States have been constructed often at ruinous rates. The money expended on most of them, has cost from seven to ten per cent. Shall we then hesitate, with money at three and a half per cent, to complete a great line which must be one of the highways of nations in all time to come? Mr. Howe explained the reason, why, until of late, he had not taken a prominent lead in reference to the railway. His hands were full of other questions, and he was reluctant to interfere with his friends until their policy had been tried and their resources exhausted. It appeared to him then, that a new principle should be tried that the Provinces should assume the responsibility, and build their own roads ; the mother country lending her credit and thereby saving us one-half of the cost. Why should the British gevernment make our railroads? They built none in India or the other Colonies. Even during the Irish famine, the House of Commons rejected Lord George Bentinck's proposition to apply eight millions to employ the people, and make railroads through that country. In Nova Scotia, said Mr. Howe, we are too proud to take the money of England, for our public improvements. Her credit we would use freely, as a merchant, who would not accept a sovereign as a gift, would use the endorsation of a friend. The service done to us will be immense, but England will herself derive a reciprocal advantage. Every year a surplus of fifty millions accumulates in the British Islands, for which investments must be found. This money has been lent to Greeks and Spaniards, and Columbians, and all manner of poor states and confederacies, that would not care if John Bull was hanged to-morrow. Many of these States pay neither principal nor interest, and the money cannot be collected without risks of a foreign war. While in England, I half jocosely suggested, that the North Americans should be employed to collect the twenty or thirty millions that the South American Republics owe. We have ships and seamen enough to do it, and a commission of ten per cent would make the railroad. But, Mr. Mayor, seeing that any British capitalist can come into the Queen's courts in the Colonies and collect a debt as simply and certainly as he could at home; and that any judge in either Province would decide against the government of the Province as honestly as against the humblest man within it, I cannot but feel that this is the legitimate field where the surplus capital and labor of England should be employed. A friend told me in London, that he had that day discounted paper to the extent of £10,000 for less than one and a half per cent. Millions are lying idle at home, and many more yield but two or three per cent. Who lends £100 in Canada for less than six per cent? There, capital is abundant, and employment for it limited - here, our available capital bears no comparison to our means of profitable investment. But it may be said why does not capital flow in here? There are two reasons — one is, that the real value and resources of the Provinces are comparatively little known — the other, that events which we all deplore, have created in England the impression that the allegiance and friendly connection of these Colonies is doubtful and insecure. Cordial unanimity among ourselves, and the frank avowal of a clearly defined North American policy, will remove that impression, and the field will be cleared for future operations. If we can employ seven millions of pounds of British capital, open up the extent and resources of the country for inspection and observation, and create a great public work, which is paying a fair return, from that moment all the capital of England will be at our disposal, and there is no enterprise that our advanced condition may require for which we cannot, thenceforward, command the means.
These reciprocal services will make the mother country and North America better known to each other. Much mischief has been done hitherto by misconceptions and misunderstandings, which a little good feeling and frankness will enable us hereafter to avoid. I found in England a good many persons whose sole end and aim was to make money out of the Colonies, and cheat the people of England by some impracticable scheme or patent job. Some of these have but little means and less character. There is another set who are great patrons of Colonial grievances, and who are ever ready to suck the brains of any Colonist that they may get up a question or a case in Parliament. When the Whigs are in, these gentlemen are Tories; when the Tories are in, they are very good Whigs. I kept those gentlemen at arm's length, and found the advantage of it. I found in the mother country, not only among those highest in rank and position, but among the great body of the people, a desire to know more of North America ; to elevate her to the highest privileges of the empire; to yield to her the largest measure of self-government compatible with its dignity. There may have been times when we have thought differently. I myself may have chafed at what appeared to be the limited field of ambition presented by the small Province in which I was born. But my sphere of action is widening every day. When a single North American can obtain audience of the government and people of England; can secure millions of money for public improvements, and find his name a household word over the wide expanse of these noble Provinces, we have much to hope, and but little to apprehend.