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proceed to the place of their destination, a capitation tax was imposed, which affected emigration to Upper as well as Lower Canada; and the operation of it was such, that even an inhabitant of the former province, returning to his home by the St. Lawrence, was liable to this odious impost.
When every topic appeared to be exhausted, Mr. Rodier, a member of the assembly, was so fortunate as to have discovered a new one, in the cholera, which he charged the English with having introduced among them. Absurd as this may seem to be, it was not without its effect, and the simple-minded credulous peasantry were induced to believe it of a people of whom they had lately heard from their leaders nothing but expressions of hatred and abuse.
"When I see," said he "my country in mourning, and my native land presenting to my eye nothing but one vast cemetery, I ask, what has been the cause of all these disasters? and the voices of thousands of my fellow citizens respond from their tombs, it is emigration. It is not enough to send amongst us avaricious egotists, without any other spirit of liberty than could be bestowed by a simple education of the counter, to enrich themselves at the expense of the Cana
dians, and then endeavour to enslave themthey must also rid themselves of their beggars, and cast them by thousands on our shoresthey must send us miserable beings, who after having partaken of the bread of our children, will subject them to the horrors of hunger and misery; they must do still more-they must send us, in their train, pestilence and death. If I present to you so melancholy a picture of the condition of this country, I have to encourage the hope that we may yet preserve our nationality, and avoid those future calamities, by opposing a barrier to this torrent of emigration. It is only in the house of assembly* we can place our hopes, and it is only in the choice the Canadians make in their elections, they can ensure the preservation of their rights and political liberties."
Things were now rapidly drawing to a crisis. The legislature was assembled by the new governor, and addressed by him in a long and conciliatory speech, in which the evils of internal dissensions were pointedly and feelingly alluded
* In a work published in France, for circulation in Canada, a very intelligible hint is given on this subject. "As the house of assembly votes rewards for the destruction of wolves, it is no less urgent to devise means to prevent immigration from being a calamity for these colonies."
to, and concessions sufficiently numerous made to have gratified the vanity and appeased the irritation of any other people than those to whom it was addressed. Among other things, they were informed, that intending to remedy the evils of persons holding a plurality of offices, he had begun with the highest, and discharged some of his executive councillors. This announcement was received in the same spirit as all others of a similar nature; and his excellency having cancelled the commission of one gentleman, in consequence of his holding a legal appointment under the house, the assembly thought that so good an example could not be followed too speedily, and immediately dismissed him from the one he retained, because he was in the council. A supplicant for money must learn to subdue his feelings, and he who asks for bread must be prepared to encounter insolence as well as destitution; a dignified demeanour is but too apt to render poverty ridic ous, and a wise man generally lays it aside, to be worn on the return of happier days. The local government was in great pecuniary distress; they were humble suitors at the portals of the house, and showed their discretion, in regarding as a mistake what was
intended as an insult. Warrants were also tendered to each branch of the legislature for their contingent expenses; as these charges contained, on the part of the house, the salary of Mr. Roebuck and Mr. Viger, agents in England, not appointed conjointly with the council, but by simple resolutions of the house, such an appropriation without law had always been violently opposed, and the constitutionalists, fearing such a sacrifice of principle would be made, had, previously to the meeting of the legislature, made it the subject of much animadversion, and presented the governor with a resolution, "That the claim which has recently been insisted upon by the house of assembly, and occasionally acted upon by the legislative council, to obtain, by separate addresses to the governor, advances of unappropriated money, under the plea of defraying contingent expenses, but in reality embracing the payment of salaries or allowances not legally established, and more particularly as regards the pretensions of the assembly for expenses not incurred or to be incurred for the business of the sessions of that house, is altogether unfounded in law, unsupported by parliamentary usage, and subversive of the rights and liberties of the British subject."
Independent of the constitutional objection to the application of the public funds to the payment of persons whom the legislative council had not only not concurred in appointing, but to whose mission they had pointedly objected, they deeply deplored that so extraordinary a concession should be made as the payment of every demand of that body that obstinately persisted in refusing to make any vote for the support of the government. Peace, however, was deemed paramount to every other consideration, and that nothing might to be left undone to attain it, even this sacrifice was not considered too great.
They were now called upon, in the usual manner, to provide for the support of the judges and the officers of government, the public chest containing at the time £130,000 sterling.
The house had no sooner retired from hearing this address, than their speaker adopted his usual mode of inflaming his party by the most violent invectives against all the authorities both at home and in the colony, charging the one with deceit and hypocrisy in their words, and the other with oppression and peculation in their deeds. In a short time he brought matters to that condition he had so long desired.