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may be thought a bold assertion, but it is
English is the language not only of the British islands, but it is the language of the whole extent of America, from the frozen ocean to the gulf of Mexico. It is the language of a great part of the West Indies; it is the language of government, and mercantile men in the whole extent of the East Indies, a country as large as Europe; not to mention its being the language of New Holland, (an immense continent of itself;) and of the Cape of Good Hope, and many other British settlements: and, next. to their own, it is the language generally used by mercantile men and seamen in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and the Russian empire: so that the English language may be said to be at present even, but will most assuredly, in the course of time, be the most universal of all languages.
What the Canadians ought principally to regard is, that they must infallibly be surrounded by people who speak English, with whom it is their destiny to buy and sell, to traffic, and treat. They cannot turn to the right hand nor to the left with
out being spoken to in English. If they go into Upper Canada, there they meet it; if they pass the bounds of the Seigneuries, in Lower Canada, again they find the want of the English language. It presses upon them on all sides; so that, on this account alone, it is evidently the interest of the Canadians to learn English; not to mention how much it is their duty also to learn the language of the head, and executive part of the government. And let me remark, that those should be convincing arguments which shew us that both our interest and duty are connected with conviction.
It is not in these different points of view alone, in which it is the interest of the Canadians to encourage, in their young people, a knowledge of English: they ought to look a little into futurity; their neighbours are more advanced in useful improvements than they are; and although their parents have not done them justice, by putting it in their power to derive every advantage from their situation which it can yield, they ought not to retaliate on their children, by keeping them in equal igno, rance. How can they profit from the ex
perience of their neighbours, if from an ignorance of language they cannot communicate their ideas to each other?
It certainly is surprising that the British government have paid so little attention to this point. So long as there is peace in Canada, the language (to Britain at least) is of less consequence; but, in case of war with America (which is at all events a possible case), the speaking French, and French only, must be a bar to the Canadians co-operating with British troops, or acting with effect under the command of a British officer. In this view of the case, the conduct of our governors has, I think, been contrary to every principle of common sense and prudence.
In Lower Canada there are about 60,000 militia. They are mustered at stated periods; and in the towns, they are clothed and armed, and have learned the business of soldiers so well, that they are fit to be brigaded with the troops of the line. One would naturally have supposed, that the Canadians and the English would have been mixed together, and taught their exercise in English, so as to do away, as much as
possible, the distinction of nations; and that they might all be in the habit of obeying a British officer, and acting under British command. Precisely the reverse of all this has taken place. The English and Canadians are divided into separate corps. The Canadians are officered by their own people; taught their exercise in French; and form a perfectly distinct body from the English. If brigaded with English troops, they could not understand the word of command, nor act with effect. In short, if the governor of Canada had intended to make them fit materials for Bonaparte to use against us, he could not have resorted to a better plan than what has been adopted here: upon this point all the world cry out; indeed it seems so absurd, it is hardly credible.
There seems to be no doubt, that government, by a temperate and steady application of the influence and powers they possess, might long ere now have made English the prevailing language in the towns. at least, and probably amongstthe leading people in every part of the country; and I
have no doubt that by the same means it may still be done.
It is supposed (and I believe not without good grounds), that the principal check to the prevalence of the English language is, that the clergy silently oppose it. An attempt should be made either to induce them to second the wishes of government, or at least to remain neuter. The most effectual means of doing so would be to abolish tythes, and pay the clergy a fixed salary out of the public purse. It would be a very easy matter to raise a fund for this purpose. The abolition of tythes would be attended with a great many advantages, agricultural, as well as political. It is an event greatly wished for, I believe, in England: there, however, many obstacles present themselves, which do not exist here; and I doubt not that it would be so popular a measure, that the clergy, with all their influence, could not oppose it. Indeed, it is a matter of some doubt whether they would not themselves. prefer a sum certain,-paid at once, to the vexatious operation of collecting tythes from a hundred hands.