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They had no taste for arts or science, for reading or instruction. Their only passion was amusement.
"There appeared in both sexes a greater degree of devotion than virtue, more religion than probity; a higher sense of honour than real honesty. Superstition took place of morality, which will always be the case whenever men are taught to believe that ceremonies will compensate for good works, and that crimes are expiated by prayers."
A greater folly can hardly be conceived than conferring a constitutional government upon a people so situated. Wherever the experiment has been tried, whether in France, in the republic of South America, in Spain, in Portugal, Greece, Newfoundland, or Lower Canada, it has invariably failed. The constitution of England, as it now exists, is the growth of ages, and would have been as unsuitable to our ancestors five hundred years ago as it is to the Lower Canadians of the present day. Regard must be had to the character and condition of the people to whom such a form of government is offered. What may suit the inhabitants of England may be, and is, very unsuitable to those of any other country. It is not sufficient that the machinery be good, but, if we desire
to avoid accidents and insure success, we must place skilful people in the management of it, who are thoroughly acquainted with its power, and have a perfect knowledge of its principle of action. The limited monarchy of England was found unsuited to America, although the people were of British extraction, accustomed to free institutions, and perfectly instructed in its practical operation. They were so unfortunate as not to possess any materials out of which to construct a House of Lords, and therefore so modified their constitution as to meet the altered circumstances of the country. This humble imitation is a cheap article, and good of its kind, though badly put together; but a better and more costly one would not have corresponded with the limited means and humble station of a poor people. Their choice is a proof of their wisdom, and their having the opportunity to choose, at a time of life when they were able to make a judicious selection, is also a proof of their good fortune. Had the Canadians been called upon, at the time of the conquest, to point out what government they would have preferred, they would unquestionably have solicited that of a single intendant; they had never known any other, and it was the only one for which they
were fitted. So strong, indeed, is the force of habit, that rejecting the constitution, which they cannot understand, and do not appreciate, they have, after a vain attempt to accommodate themselves to it, resorted to the usage of former days, and (however unfortunate they may have been in the character and conduct of the person they selected as their leader) have adopted the usage of their forefathers, and implicitly yielded their confidence and obedience to one man.
HAVING thus traced historically the measures of government, from the conquest of the country to the time when the Constitutional Act went into operation in the province (26th December 1791), which forms the first important epoch in the history of the colony, I shall divide the time that intervened between that period and the present into four other portions: The second extends from the meeting of the first provincial House of Assembly in December 1792 to 1818, when a demand was made for a civil list; the third from thence to 1828, when the pretensions of the Assembly had assumed a distinct and definite form, and were referred to a committee of Parliament; the fourth from thence to 1834, when a further reference of additional grievances was made to another parliamentary committee; and the fifth from 1834 to the present period. Such a division will elucidate the growth and increase of those revolutionary principles (the natural and obvious result of such a form of government) which first appeared in an insidious attempt to monopolise the whole civil power by such
a complete control in matters of legislation and finance as would render her Majesty's representative, and the Legislative Council, subservient to the interests, prejudices, and passions of the French Canadian majority, and finally terminated in open rebellion. I do not mean by this to affirm that all that has since transpired was the result of a preconceived design, systematically acted upon; but as uncontrolled power was given by the constitution to the French party, that these pretensions were the natural result of such a power, and that they were unhesitatingly put forward as soon as their leaders had become acquainted with the working of the constitution, and aware that they were invested with the means of imposing their own terms upon government.
The first assembly met on the 17th of December 1792, and as the representation had been most injudiciously based on the principle of population, thirty-five out of the fifty members of this first house were French, and fifteen only English, a minority too large and respectable to be suffered to continue longer than to teach the majority the forms of business, and we accordingly find, at a subsequent period, that it was reduced to three. The change from arbitrary to constitutional government was so great, that