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LETTER VIII.

Quebec, August, 1806. Allow me to make a few observations on the treatment the Canadians have experienced since the conquest.

The length of time Canada may continue under the dominion of Britain, will depend very much on the manner in which the country is governed, and the kind of policy observed towards the inhabitants. It is a subject which is even now discussed every day, and I find that there is a great difference of opinion about it.

We lost the United States' by an impolitic course of treatment, and it behoves us to look well to the Canadas. Some people pretend to say that we are better without America, and very ingenious arguments have been brought forward to prove it. One thing we may be assured of is, that the arguments will be favourably received: we are very glad to find palliatives for evils We cannot remedy. I suppose no one will

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pretend to say that the loss of our North American colonies, and consequently, of our Newfoundland trade, would not be a very serious evil to Great Britain. Although self-interest and the power of custom might induce the people to continue their trade with us, and our Customhouse books might shew higher exports than while they were under our dominion, still if we depended on them for any articles of the first necessity ;-party spirit, caprice, or foreign influence, might produce a non-importation act, or an embargo, nay they might even refuse bread and water to our men of war ;-injuries to which we never would be liable, were we masters of the country. It appears to me to be decidedly the interest of Great Britain to retain the dominion of her North American colonies, even though her doing so should retard their progress in population, in arts, and in com

Their individual interests ought to yield to those of the mother country, the head of the empire.

Canada, and Canadians, differ very materially from the ci-devant British colonies in America and their inhabitants. These

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were Englishmen,-descended from men who had the highest notions of civil and religious liberty, and they inherited the temper and sentiments of their ancestors; they were impatient under what they conceived to be the tyranny of government, and they brought about the revolution. The Canadians are legitimate Frenchmen,the descendants of the worshippers of Louis the Fourteenth and of Cardinal Richelieu, -the descendants of men who never once formed an idea, themselves, of the nature of civil and religious liberty, and who, of course, would not be likely to impress it on the minds of their children. The authoritative mandates of the French king have never sounded in their ears in vain ;-they were issued with all the arrogance of despotism, and received with implicit and passive obedience. Even now, to reason with the great bulk of the Canadians on the measures of government, is what they never look for; they have no idea of questioning their propriety ;-command them au nom du Roi, and you will be obeyed.

The government of Britain have thought fit to give to Canada a constitution upon

the same principles as her own; and have given to the Canadians the right of electing, and being elected members of the legislature. How far it has been wise so to do, appears at least problematical. That which is a positive good in certain circumstances, may be a positive evil in others. Is it clear, that the British form of government is fitted for Canada, and that the Canadians are in a state to be benefited by being allowed a share in the

government? Does their knowledge, their education, the whole train and direction of their ideas, prejudices, and passions, fit them for being legislators ? I suspect that the answer must be in the negative. How can those men attain a knowledge of the principles of government, and of civil and religious liberty, who can neither read nor write, which is the case with the great mass of the people, and however strange it may appear, is the case with many of the members of the House of Assembly. This must seem incredible, but is however strictly true; and is of itself a most convincing proof that it was too soon to give them a share in the government.

The state of the country is so low as to arts and letters, that it is impossible to find in the counties, and even sometimes in the towns, men, who in any respect are capable of taking a part in the legislature. Let knowledge be more generally spread through the country; let the people be taught to read and to reason, which Englishmen had long been habituated to be fore they received their constitution, and then, and not till then, ought they to have a voice in the deliberations of government.

I do not deny that some of the Canadians are qualified from their education and

general knowledge to take a part in state affairs, but it is the case with very few of them; and to pretend to find in the counties in general, fit men to represent them, is altogether out of the question. The counties are large districts, thinly inhabited, , and generally by people who cannot leave their families without great injury to their private interests. In fact, more than one half of the members of the House of Assembly are merchants, shopkeepers, lawyers, and notaries public, living in Quebec and Montreal. The House of Assembly

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