Page images


Quebec, 1808.

Ar the time of the conquest, forty years ago, Canada contained such a mere handful of people, that it would have been no difficult matter to have introduced the English language very generally, in the towns at least. Some steps have been


taken for that purpose from time to time, but have failed of success, from want of energy on the part of government. English schools have been established in some parts of the country, but few, or none, of the Canadians have ever sent their children to them.

Government, from the beginning, instead of shewing a decided preference to their own language, adopted a temporising system, which left the Canadians without a motive to learn English.. Had the knowledge of the English language always been held

out asa recommendation to favour, and a preference given on that account, where other qualifications were equal-had English alone prevailed in the courts of justice, and in all departments of state, and public offices; it is highly probable that it would have been the general language of the country at the present moment: at least, it would have become a necessary part of the education of the better sort of people; as they could not have appeared at the governor's without it, nor have had any thing to say, either in the provincial parliament, or courts of justice. Had the leading men of the country been Englified, their influence would have been felt by the lower classes; and you might now, in a great measure, have had a colony of Englishmen, instead of Frenchmen. I may be told that language is only sound, and that a man may have good principles, whatever language he speaks. All that may be very true; but I deny that the descendants of Frenchmen, retaining the French language, manners, and customs, and constantly talking of the French as their progenitors, can ever be good British subjects, or enter heartily into her interests. The French

man's amor patriæ is not easily rooted out; nay, nor any other man's amor patriæ. It can only be done by giving a proper direction to the minds of young. people; to accomplish which not the least pains are taken in Canada.

It seems highly expedient, and decidedly for the advantage of the Canadians themselves, that the English language should be universally prevalent in Canada. In making this assertion, I am aware that I am flying in the face of the opinions of the Canadians-opinions strongly supported by all those passions and prejudices so natural to humanity. I do not greatly blame them. We all have opinions and prejudices, of which we cannot easily get the better; and which, indeed, like the Canadians in the present case, we are at no great pains to conquer. But this does not alter their nature; they still are wrong. Could the Canadians leave their minds open to conviction, I think they would scarcely be able to continue opposed to the conclusions I shall draw.

Canada is become a part of the British empire, and the more closely it is connected

[ocr errors][merged small]

with the body of the empire, the better for the whole. It is acknowledged universally, that the strength of a whole is increased by the union of the parts. If the junction of the branch to the trunk is defective, if a fracture exists, the nourishment given is checked-the advantages mutually received are weakened. This has ever been considered an axiom both in the natural and political world. Every impediment to a close connexion between Britain and Canada ought to be removed or avoided, in order that they may fully enjoy all the benefits arising from their connexion. I, for my own part, have no doubt that the English language not being the language of Canada, is an impediment of this sort. Did the Canadians speak the German language, the Italian, or any other language, the effect would be the same. I do not mean to enter into any view of the comparative value of the French and English languages; but one thing I will venture to say, which is, that the English is the language which the Canadians would find the most useful; and I think I can prove it to their satisfaction..

I know well that it is generally said that

the French is the language most generally known; and that all the world speak French. These observations are far from being literally true. No doubt, most gentlemen, who have had a liberal education, know the French language; and you occasionally find some who speak it pretty well: but these are not the people with whom the Canadians are likely to be principally connected. Canada must, in time, become a great, populous, and trading country. Nature has given a great facility to mercantile intercourse; the large lakes and rivers open up a vast extent of country; and they will infallibly be surrounded by a people who speak English. The Canadians (of Lower Canada, to whom I beg leave to be understood to refer,) ought to recollect, that Canada forms a part of America; and that the language of America is English, and ever will be English. This too is the case with Upper Canada; a circumstance which they ought not to overlook. I also take upon me to assert, that no language on earth is so generally and universally spoken, both as to the extent of the countries which use it. and the number of their inhabitants. This

« PreviousContinue »