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Baldwin, LaFontaine, Hincks
Chapter X - The Rebellion Losses Bill


THE Act of Indemnification of 1819, or—to give it the name by which it was known during its passage through parliament and by which it is still remembered—the Rebellion Losses Bill, is of unparalleled importance in the history of Canada. The (till was a measure for the compensation of persons in Lower Canada whose property had suffered in the suppression of the rebellion of 1837 and 1838. It excited throughout Canada a furious opposition. It was denounced both in Canada and in England as a scheme for rewarding rebels. Its passage led to open riots in Montreal, to the invasion of the legislature by a. crowd of malcontents, to the burning of the houses of parliament and to the mobbing of Lord Elgin in the streets of the city. These facts alone would have made it an episode of great prominence in the narrative of our history; but the bill is of still greater importance in the development of the constitution of Canada. The fact that in despite of the opposition of the Loyalists, in despite of the flood of counter-petitions and addresses, in despite of the imminent prospect of civil strife, Lord Elgin fulfilled his constitutional duty, refused to dissolve the parliament or to reserve the bill for the royal sanction, and that the home government accepted the situation and refused to interfere, shows that we have here arrived at the complete realization of colonial self-government. The passage of the Rebellion Losses Bill gives to the doctrine of the right of the people of the colony to manage their own affairs, the final seal of a general acceptance.

The circumstances leading to the introduction of the measure were as follows. The outbreak of 1837-8 had occasioned throughout the two provinces a very considerable destruction of private property. Some of this had been caused by the overt acts of the rebels; but there had also been a good deal of property destroyed, injured or confiscated by the troops and the Loyalists in the suppression of the rebellion.

It was, from the beginning, the intention of the government to make reparation to persons who had suffered damage from the acts of rebels. The parliament of Upper Canada had passed an Act (1 Vict, c. 13) appointing commissioners to estimate the damages, and had presently voted (2 Vict. c. 48) the issue of some four thousand pounds in debentures m payment of the claims. The special council of Lower Canada had taken similar action. But the question of damage done in suppressing the outbreak was of a somewhat different complexion. A part of the property destroyed was the property of persons 306 actually in arms against the government. To these, plainly enough, no compensation was owing. In other cases the owners of injured property were adherents of the government, whose losses were occasioned either fortuitously or by the necessities of war. To these, equally clearly, a compensation ought to be paid. But between these two classes was a large number of persons whose property had suffered, who were not openly and provably rebels but who had belonged to the disaffected class, or who at any rate were identified in race and sympathy with the disaffected part of the population. This element gave to the equities of the question a very perplexed appearance.

In the last session of its existence the parliament of Upper Canada had adopted an Act (October 22nd, 1840) voting compensation on a large scale for damage done by the troops and otherwise. The sum of forty thousand pounds was to be applied to claims preferred under the Act. As no means were laid down for raising the necessary funds, this Act remained inoperative. Then followed the union of the Canadas and the election of a joint parliament. In despite of repeated petitions and individual representations to the government nothing more was done in regard to Rebellion Losses Claims until the year 1845 when the Draper government passed an Act to render operative the Upper Canadian statute of 1840.

The funds for the measure were to be supplied out of the receipts from tavern licenses for Upper Canada, which were set aside for that purpose. The sums collected under this Act of parliament between April 5th, 1845 and January 24t'h, 1849, amounted to -£38.

At the time when Mr. Draper's Act of 1845 was before parliament, the Reformers of Lower Canada protested against the inequity of extending to one section of the country a privilege not enjoyed by the other, and demanded similar legislation for Lower Canada. The government, presumably in order to obtain their support for its own measure, indicated its readiness to act upon this demand, and a unanimous address was presented to Lord Metcalfe (February 28th, 1815) asking him to institute an enquiry into the losses sustained in Lower Canada during the period of the insurrection. A commission consisting of five persons was accordingly appointed (November 27th. 1845). The commissioners were asked to distinguish between participants 'n the rebellion and persons innocent of complicity, but they wee also nformed that "the object of the executive government was merely to obtain a general estimate of the rebellion losses, the particulars of which should form the subject of more minute investigation thereafter under legislative authority." The result was that the commission found themselves compelled to report that "the want of 308 power to proceed to a strict and regular investigation of the losses in question left the commissioners no other resource than to trust to the allegation of the claimants as to the amount and nature of their losses." Needless to say that, under the circumstances, many of the allegations in question were very wide of the truth : the total sum claimed amounted to over two hundred and forty thousand pounds, and of this it is said that about twenty-five thousand pounds represented claims of persons who had been convicted by court-mart ial of complicity in the rebellion. It will easily be understood that under these circumstances the cry arose from the Canadian Tories and their British sympathizers that the whole scheme amounted to nothing more than plundering the public treasury in favour of the disloyal. It was impossible for the government to take action upon a report of so unreliable a character Indeed it, is likely that the government was anxious merely to tide the matter over as best it might. It voted some ten thousand pounds hi payment of claims that had been certified in Lower Canada before the union, and with that it let the matter rest.

As the question stood at the opening of the LaFontaine-Baldwm administration, it is plain that a grave injustice rested upon many inj.ired persons in Lower Canada as compared with their fellow-citizens of Upper Canada who had received compensation for their losses: granted that there were black sheep among the claimants, this did not affect the validity of the other claims. It was this injustice that LaFontaine, whose constant policy it was to safeguard the rights of his nationality, now determined to rectify. Early in the session he moved, seconded by Robert Baldwin, a series of seven resolutions, reciting the failure of the previous commission and demanding the appointment of a new body with proper powers, and the payment of claims. The resolutions, carried by large majorities (the vote on the lirst one, for example, was fifty-two to twenty) were followed (February 27th) by the introduction of a bill to bring them into effect. The measure was entitled, "An Act to provide for the indemnification of parties in Lower Canada whose property was destroyed during the rebellion of the years 1837 and 1838." There was no difficulty, as far as voting power went in carrying the bill through parliament. It was passed by the House of Assembly (March 9th, 1849) by a vote of forty-seven to eighteen, and accepted without amendment by the legislative council by twenty against fourteen votes. The fact that the measure received overwhelming support in a legislature only recently elected, must be carefully noted in considering the constitutional aspect of the question involved.

Under the provisions of the Act the governor-general was empowered to appoint five commissioners whose duty it should be "faithfully and without partiality to enquire into and to ascertain the amount of the losses sustained during the rebellion." The commissioners were given authority to summon witnesses and examine them under oath. For the payment of the claims the governor was empowered to issue debentures, payable out of the consolidated revenue of the province at or within twenty years after the date of issue and bearing interest at six per cent. The maximum amount; to be expended on the claims (including the expenses incurred under the Act and the sum of £9.98 was not to exceed £100,000; if the claims allowed amounted to a higher total, a proportionate distribution was to be effected. The Act also provided that no claim should be recognized on the part of any persons "who had been convicted of treason during the rebellion, or who, having been taken into custody, had submitted to Her Majesty's will and been transported to Bermuda."

The introduction and explanation of the bill before parliament naturally fell to the task of LaFontaine, who made a number of speeches -n its support, traversing the whole question of indemnity from 1837 onwards and affording an admirable history of the measure. Baldwin took but little part in the debates on the Rebellion. It has often been said that this was from lack of sympathy with the measure, and insinuations of this kind were made in the House of Assembly. But a speech made by Baldwin during the debate on the introduction of the preliminary resolutions (February 27th, 1849) emphatically affirms his concurrence in LaFontaine's proposed measure. He had been accused, he said, of wilfully abstaining from speaking on the measure, but this was an error, for he had merely refrained from speaking because there was no necessity to do so. The whole matter had been set in such a clear light by his friends that it would be impossible to elucidate it still further. In the brief speech which followed, Baldwin went on to show that the measure contemplated by the resolutions would merely do for Lower Canada what had already been done for the upper part of the province. If the resolutions failed to indicate how to avoid indemnifying any who had taken up arms, so too had the Act of 1841.

The passage of the bill was, of course, an easy matter as far as obtaining a majority went. But nothing could exceed the furious opposition excited both within and without the parliament by the introduction of the bill. The old battle of the rebellion was fought over again. With Papineau back in the assembly, Mackenzie: now revisiting the country under the Amnesty Act, the legislature in session at Montreal and a French-Canadian at the head of the administration, it seemed to the excited Tories as if the days of 1837 had come back, and that they must rally again to fight the cause of British loyalty against the encroachments of an alien race. The bill for payment of the losses seemed like the crowning triumph of their foes, and the cry, "No pay for rebels,'' resounded throughout the province. Many Canadian writers, as for example, the late Sir John Bourinot in his Lord Elgin, have seen in the opposition of the Tories nothing more than a party contest, the familiar game in which a likely issue is seized upon m the hope of a sudden overthrow of the government. "The issue," he says, "was not one of public principle or of devotion to the Crown, it was simply a question of obtaining a party victory.

The issue was not, indeed, in the real truth of the matter, a question of devotion to the Crown and the retention of the British connection. But the Tories, many of them, in all honesty saw it so. One has but to read the newspapers of the day to realize that something more than a mere party question was at issue. It was a contest in which right and justice were fighting hand to hand against a blind but honest fanaticism to whose distorted vision the Rebellion Losses Bill undid the work of the Loyalists of 1837. The rabble of the Montreal streets that burned the houses of parliament were doubtless inspired by no higher motive than the fierce lust of destruction that animates an inflamed and unprincipled mob. But the opposition of Sir Allan MacNab and the reputable leaders of Conservatism was based on a genuine conviction that the safety of the country was at strike. In the blindness of their rage the Tories lost from sight entirely that they themselves had sanctioned the payment of compensation for losses in Upper Canada, that the Draper government had itself originated the present movement, and that the bill expressly stipulated that nothing should be paid to "rebels" in the true sense of the term. The reasoned logic of LaFontame's presentation of the bill fell upon ears which the passion of the hour made deaf to argument: the fiery invective of Solicitor-general Blake, who answered the Torv accusation of disloyalty with a counter-accusation of the same character, only maddened them to fury. In the debate on the second reading of the bill the parliament became a scene of wild confusion. MacNab had called the French-Canadians "aliens and rebels." Blake in return taunted him with the disloyalty that prompts a meaningless and destructive opposition.

"I am not come here," said Blake,1 "to learn lessons of loyalty from honourable gentlemen opposite. ... I have no sympathy with the would-be loyalty of honourable gentlemen opposite, wliieh, while it at all times affects peculiar zeal for the prerogative of the Crown, is ever ready to sacrifice the liberty of the subject. This is not British loyalty: it is the spurious loyalty which at all periods of the world's history has lashed humanity nto rebellion. . . . The expression 'rebel' has been applied by the gallant knight opposite to some gentlemen on this side of the House, but I tell gentlemen on the other side that their public conduct has proved that they are the rebels to their constitution and country." For a man of MacNab's fighting temper, this was too much. "If the honourable member means to apply the word 'rebel' to me," he shouted, "1 must tell him that it is nothing else than a lie." In a moment the House was hi an uproar: Blake and MacNab were only prevented from coming to blows by the intervention of the sergeant-at-arms, while a storm of shouts and hisses from the crowded galleries added to the confusion of the House. Blake and MacNab were taken into custody by the sergeant-at-arms, several of the wilder spirits of the galleries were arrested, and the debate ended for the day.

Of the various arguments advanced against the bill in the Canadian parliament and elsewhere, two only arc worth considering. It was said in the first place that under the terms of the bill a certain number of persons who, n heart if not in act, had been rebels would receive compensation. Tins was undoubtedly true, but was also unavoidable. Unless one were to have given to the commissioners inquisitorial and discretionary powers, unless, that is to say, they had been allowed to declare any one in retrospect a rebel simply on their general opinion of his conduct,—a remedy that would have been worse than the evil it strove to cure,—it is undoubtedly true that many of the disaffected inhabitants of the Lower Canada of 1837 could claim compensation. But it must be borne i o mind that they could not claim compensation for being disaffected, but simply for having lost their property. The Act did the best that could be done. It accepted the only legal definition of "rebel" that was possible; namely, persons previously convicted as such. These it excluded. To all others who could prove damages compensation was to be given.

The other objection was perhaps more serious. It was urged against the bill that the Upper Canadian losses had been paid out of a special fund raised in Upper Canada; namely, the proceeds of the tavern licenses paid in that part of the province. The bill of 1849 proposed to pay the Lower Canadian losses out of the general fund of (united) Canada. By this method, it was argued, the people of Upper Canada were called upon to pay all of their own damages and a share of those of their neighbours. The answer made by the administration to this argument may be found n the speeches delivered by LaFontaine in March, 1849, and n a circular drawn up in Montreal, presumably by Hincks, n defence of the government, and subsequently printed in the London Times.1 It ran as follows:—

The proceeds of tavern licenses, in both provinces, had previously formed part of the general fund. When Mr. Draper's Act of 1845 was passed, these proceeds were removed from the general fund and alienated to special uses iti each section of the province. In Lower Canada they were given to the municipalities: in Upper Canada they were applied to the payment of the rebellion losses. Now in tipper Canada the sums in question were considerably greater than in Lower Canada: the license taxes in the one case amounted (taking an average of the last four years) to £9,064; in the other case to only £5,557. Hence, argued LaFontaine, the effect of the proceeding was to give to Upper Canada an overplus of £4,107 a year, which was equivalent to a capital sum of £08.454. The same kind of segregation had also (in 1840) been made of the marriage license proceeds, in which case the surplus accruing amounted to £1,785 and represented a capital of £29,764. Putting the two together it appears, according to LaFontaiue's view of it, that Upper Canada thus received the equivalent of a capital sum of £98,000. Since the present bill only asked for £90,000 (the other 1 March 23rd, 1849.

£10,000 of the £100.000 representing claims already certified, Lower Canada was only asking what was well within its rights. This argument of LaFontaine may, or may not, appear convincing. Since the Upper Canadian license tax was paid by the people of Upper Canada, it is hard to see that the surplus of its proceeds over the tax in Lower Canada had anything to do with the case. It must be remembered also that the Lower Canadian tax was used in Lower Canada. But the argument is part of the history of the time and is here given for what it is worth.

Intense excitement prevailed throughout Canada during the parliamentary discussion of the bill. Public meetings of protest were held by the Tories throughout the country. Petitions poured in against the measure, many of them directed to Lord Elgin himself, in order, if possible, to force him from his ground of constitutional neutrality. Resolutions were drawn up at a meeting in Toronto praying the queen to disallow the bill if it should pass. In many places the excitement thus occasioned led to violent demonstrations, n some cases, as at Belleville, to open riots. The inflamed state of public feeling at this period and the exasperation of the Tories are evidenced by the disturbances which occurred at Toronto on the reappearance of William Lyon Mackenzie. On this occasion Baldwin, Blake and the ex-leader of the rebels were burned in effigy in the streets of the town. The following is the exultant account given of the burning by the Toronto Patriot, the most thorough-going organ of Toryism.

"On Thursday evening [March 22nd, 1849], the inhabitants of Toronto witnessed a very uncommon spectacle—more uncommon than surprising at this time. The attorney-general, the proud solicitor-general and the hero of Gallows Hill were associated in one common fate, amid the cheers and exultations of the largest concourse of people beheld in Toronto since the election of Dunn and Buchanan. The three dolls,—would that their originals had been as harmless!—were elevated on long poles and paraded round the town, visiting the residences of the three noble individuals, and subsequently two of them were burned near Mr. Baldwin's residence and the third opposite Mr. Mcintosh's, in Yonge Street, the house in which the humane and gallant Mackenzie had taken up his abode. It would be impossible to describe the expressions of indignation and disgust on the part of the people towards the triumvirate."'

The scene was concluded by smashing in the front windows of the Mcintosh house with a volley of stones. The partisan press spared no efforts to arouse a desperate opposition to the bill. "Men of Canada of British origin," pleaded the Church,1 a forceful publication devoted to Anglican Toryism and the doctrines of Dr. Strachan, "no sleep to the eyes, no slumber to the eyelids, until you have avenged this most atrocious, this most unparalleled insult!" In the same month the New York Herald declared that the "fate of Canada was near at hand." "This may be the commencement," it said, "of a struggle which will end in the consummation so devoutly wished by the majority of the people,— a complete and perfect separation of those provinces from the rule of England."

In the mother country, both in and out of parliament, loud protests were raised against the measure. The London Times- interpreted it as the selfish machination of a rebel faction. "As things have been turned upside down since 1838," said a Times editorial on the Canadian situation, " and what was then the rebel camp is now the government of Canada, it is obvious that no measure of compensation is likely to pass which does not include some of the offending gentlemen themselves in the bill of damages made out. The alternative is either no compensation to anybody, or to all alike. This must be very annoying to the Royalists (sic), who marched to and fro. and who incurred expense, wounds, and loss of health by their prompt succour of the state. ... If we would judge of the feelings excited <n the breast of such ardent Royalists as Sir Allan MacNab, we must suppose a parliament of Chartists and Repealers, not only dividing among themselves all the offices of the State, but also compensating one another for their past sufferings with magnificent grants from the treasury." It is to be noted that the usual Tory designation of their party as Loyalists is not strong enough for the Times in this issue, which implies a still more chivalrous degree of devotion to the throne by using the term Royalists. The same article speaks of the " loyal population of Canada being considerably excited," talks of their settled " impression that rebellion has been rewarded and loyalty insulted by the British Crown," and describes Canada as a "colony that hangs by a thread."

The crowning event in the agitation against the Act of Indemnification was the riot at Montreal, which broke out on the news that Lord Elgin had given his assent to the bill. This was on April 25th. 1849. Lord Elgin's consent to the measure was. of course, the result of due deliberation, but the immediate circumstances of giving assent were of a somewhat hurried character. Among other bills awaiting his sanction was the new tariff' bill. Navigation was just opening at Montreal and the sudden news that an incoming vessel was sighted in the river induced Lord Elgin, at the request of the ministry.2 to proceed in haste to the houses of parliament. It seemed to Lord Elgin that he might as well take advantage of the occasion to assent to the other bills that were also waiting his approval. The news that the bill had become law spread rapidly through the town, and the haste of Lord Elgin's proceedings gave an entirely false colour to what had happened. As the governor-general left, the houses of parliament "after the consummation of his nefarious act," (to use the words of a Tory journalist), he was greeted with the "groans and curses" of a crowd that had assembled about the building. As he drove through the city on his way to his official residence of "Monklands," the groans and curses were accompanied with a shower of random missiles. Stones crashed against the sides of the governor's carriage and rotten eggs bespattered it with filth, but no serious harm was done to its occupants. As the evening drew on the excitement throughout the city increased apace. The fire bells of the town were rung to call the people into the streets, and a printed announcement was passed through the crowd that a mass meeting would be held at eight o'clock in the Champ de Mars.

All this time the House was n session. MacNab warned the ministry that a riot was brewing, but the government were reluctant to make a precipitate call for military help. At eight o'clock the wide expanse of the Champ de Mars was filled with a surging and excited mob, howling with applause as it listened to speeches in denunciation of the tyranny that had been perpetrated. Presently from among the crowd the cry arose, " To the parliament house," and the rioters, ready for any violence, hurried through the narrow streets of the lower town to the legislative building. On their way they wrecked the offices of the Pilot with a shower of stones. A few minutes later a similar volley burst in the windows of the house of parliament. The members fled from the ball in confusion, while the rioters invaded the building and filled the hall of the assembly itself. The furniture, chandeliers and fittings of the hall were smashed to pieces in the wild rage of destruction. A member of the crowd took his seat in the speaker's chair and shouted, "dissolve this House."

While the tumult and destruction were still in progress, the cry was raised, "The parliament house is on fire." The west end of the building. doubtless deliberately fired by the rioters, was soon a sheet of flames. The fire spread fiercely from room to room and from wing to wing of the building. "The fury and rapidity with which the flames spread," said an eye-witness, "can hardly be imagined: in less than fifteen minutes the whole of the wing occupied by the House of Assembly was in flames, and, owing to the close connection between the two halls of the legislature, the chamber of the legislative council was involved in the same destruction." The fierce light of the flames illuminated the city from the mountain to the river, and spread fear m the hearts of its inhabitants. The firemen who arrived on the scene were forcibly held back from staying the progress of the fire, and the houses of the parliament of Canada burned fiercely to ruin. The assembly library of twenty thousand volumes perished in the flames. MacNab. with characteristic loyalty, rescued from the burning building the portrait of his beloved queen. The military, at length arrived on the ground, stayed the progress of further violence, but the wild excitement that pervaded the populace of the city boded furt her trouble. Next evening the riots broke out again. Attacks were made on the houses of Hincks and Wolfred Nelson. The boarding house on St. Antoine Street, occupied by Baldwin and Price, was assaulted with a shower of stones: LaFontaine's residence—a new house which he had just purchased, but where he was fortunately not at that moment in residence —was attacked, the furniture demolished, and the stables given to the flames. Not until the evening of the twenty-seventh did the troops, aided by a thousand special constables armed with cutlasses and pistols, succeed in restoring order to the streets.

Three days later the governor-general, attempting to drive into the city from his residence where he had remained since the twenty-fifth, was again attacked. As he passed through the streets on his way to the government offices in the Chateau de Ramezay on Notre Dame Street, volleys of stones and other missiles greeted the progress of his carriage. Before reaching his destination Lord Elgin found his way blocked with a howling, furious crowd, while shouts of "Down with the governor-general" urged the mob to violence. The governor's escort of troops succeeded in forcing back the crowd and effecting his entrance into the building, but his return journey was converted into a precipitate flight, the crowd pursuing the vice-regal carriage in "cabs, coaches and everything that would run." Fortunately Lord Elgin escaped unhurt, but his brother was severely injured by a stone hurled after the carriage and several of his escort were hurt. Such were the disgraceful scenes which lost for Montreal the dignity of being the seat of government.

It was but natural that the progress of events in Canada should excite great attention in the mother country. In the British parliament, the government of Lord John Russell was prepared to defend the right of the Canadians to legislate as they pleased n regard to the matter at issue. Mr. Roebuck and the Radicals went even further and defended the equity of the bill itself. The Peelites, or at any rate the greater part of them, voted with the government against interference. But the thorough-going Tones insisted on viewing the issue as one between loyalty and treason, and demanded that the imperial government should either disallow the Act or contravene its operation by an Act of the British parliament. In the middle of the month of June the Canadian question was debated both in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords. Not the least important of those who appeared as the champions of the Canadian Tories was Mr. Gladstone. His rising reputation, the especial attention he had devoted to colonial questions, and the fact that he had been Lord Stanley's successor as colonial secretary m the cabinet of Sir Robert Peel, combined to render him a formidable adversary to the Canadian ministry. His speech on the Rebellion Losses Act shows his usual marvellous command of detail and powers of presentation. Mr. Gladstone's great objection to the Canadian statute was that, in his opinion, a large number of virtual rebels would receive compensation under its operation: he begged that Lord John Russell's government would either disallow the Act or obtain from the Canadian parliament an amendment of its provisions which should place the compensation on a basis more strictly defined. But what is still more noticeable m Mr. Gladstone's speech is his opinion that the government had allowed Lord Elgin too great latitude in the matter, and that, the scope; of the Act exceeded the proper limits of colonial power. "It might not be politic for the colonial secretary," he said, "to interpose his advice in respect to merely local matters, but it was his first duty to tender his advice regarding measures which' involved not only imperial rights but the honour of the Crown. That adv ice ought not to be delayed until a measure assumed the form of a statute, but should be given at the first possible moment, and before public opinion was appealed to in the country."

Roebuck, Disraeli and others participated in the debate and a certain Mr. Cochrane, representing the outraged patriotism of the extreme Tories, referred in scathing terms to Baldwin and LaFontaine, speaking of them as fugitives from justice in the days of the rebellion.

The speech of Mr. Gladstone on the Canadian question is of especial importance in the present narrative in that it called forth an answer from the pen of Francis Hincks, in the form of a letter to the London Times.1 Shortly after the passage of the indemnification bill Hincks had left Montreal (May 14th, 1819) for England. The object of his visit was, in the first place, of a financial character, the Canadian government being anxious to negotiate its securities in the London market. But the inspector-general acted also as a special envoy to the imperial cabinet in regard to the great question of the day and discussed the Rebellion Losses question with Lord John Russell and Earl Grey.

Hincks also conversed on the subject in detail with Mr. Gladstone who found himself unable to adopt the views of the Canadian minister.

In his letter to the Times, Hincks deals at some length with Mr. Gladstone's arguments in regard to the "payment of rebels." In the debates in the recent session of the Canadian parliament, Hincks had said that certain persons convicted of high treason in Upper Canada had received compensation under the Upper Canada Rebellion Losses Act, which was curried into effect by Tory commissioners under instructions from a Tory government. Both Disraeli and Gladstone had dissented from this. Disraeli had broadly asserted that there had been no rebels in Upper Canada, and that consequently no restrictive clauses were necessary m the Act, for that section of the province. Gladstone had said that "there was no ground to suppose that any rebel had received any sum by way of compensation." Hincks, by a very accurate citation of individual cases, shows that there were rebels in Upper Canada and that some of them, at any rate, had received compensation under the Act. Hincks does not mean to imply that, as a consequence of this, the government should expressly seek to reward the rebels of the Lower Province. "I do not of course mean to contend that, if it be wrong rebels should be compensated for their losses, the fact that they were so compensated in Upper Canada is any excuse for the Lower Canada Act. But I do contend that it is highly discreditable to a party which, when in power, admitted claims of this description without the slightest complaint, to agitate the entire province, to get up an excitement which they themselves are unable to control, because then opponents have introduced a measure much more stringent in its details, but under which it. is possible that some parties suspected or accused of treason, but never convicted, may be paid."

The letter concludes with some interesting paragraphs in which the writer discusses the strictures that had been passed in the course of the debate in the House of Commons1 upon the leaders of the Canadian ministry. "Nothing can be more untrue," writes Hincks, "than the allegation that any member of the present administration was implicated in the rebellion. No reward was ever offered for the apprehension of any one of them. Mr. Baldwin never was a fugitive from justice. Such absurd statements as I have heard regarding occurrences in Canada, only prove that it is very unsafe for parties at a distance of three thousand miles to interfere in our affairs. I confess, however, that I was not very sorry that the members of the House of Commons had an opportunity afforded them of hearing at least.

"Let me, in conclusion/' wrote Hincks, "say a word or two regarding ' French domination.' I should imagine that the author of Coningsby [Mr, Disraeli ] understands the meaning of getting up a 'good cry ' to serve party purposes. The cry of the Canadian Tory party is ' French domination,' and it is especially intended to excite the sympathy of people in England who understand little about our politics, but who are naturally inclined to sympathize with a British party governed by French influence. A little reflection would convince them that ' French domination' cannot exist in the united province. I need scarcely say that it is wholly untrue that it does exist. The administration consists of five members from Upper Canada and five from Lower Canada. The former represent some of the most important constituencies in Upper Canada. If the administration of the government or of the legislature were made subservient to French influence, is it probable, I would ask, that the government would be supported by the British people of Upper Canada? All I shall say in conclusion is, that I claim for myself and my colleagues from Upper Canada -and truth and justice I should say for my Lower Canadian colleagues also - that we have as much true British feeling as any member of that party which seems to wish to monopolize it.''

The financial purpose of Hincks's visit to England—the strengthening of the credit of the colony m the London market—was accomplished with marked success. The inspector-general realized that the agitation occasioned by recent events, and the pervading ignorance in reference to the economic position and prospects of Canada, seriously prejudiced the securities of the province in the eyes of the British investors. To meet this situation. Hincks prepared and published in London a pamphlet entitled, Canada and its Financial Resources. In this publication he shows that the money hitherto borrowed by the Canadian government had been employed in public works of a sound and reproductive character. The imperial guarantee loan of £1,500,000 and the issue of provincial debentures of a somewhat larger sum make a gross total of £3,223,839, and represent the larger part of the cost of the public works of the province, the total cost being estimated by Hincks at £3,703,781 sterling. In order to show the utility and profitableness of the expenditure thus made, Hincks composed a series of tables shoving the growth and progress of the colony for the last twenty-five years. The population of Upper Canada had risen, between 1824 and 1848, from 151,097 to 723,000 inhabitants: Lower Canada, whose population in 1825 had stood at 423,6.30, now contained 766.000 souls. The land under cultivation in Upper Canada had increased during the same period from 535,212 to 2.G73.820 acres: the yield of local taxation in Upper Canada had increased from £10,235 to £86,058; while the estimated revenue for the united province in the current year stood at £574,610. a sum whose proportion to the public debt showed the stable condition of the provincial finances. Although financial and fiscal discussion forms the major part of Hincks's pamphlet, he deals also with the political situation, reasserts the essential loyalty of the Reform party, urges the necessity for the further development of the province and calls for imperial aid in the building of an intercolonial railway. The effect of this pamphlet and of the series of letters of a similar character which Hincks contributed to the Daily Mail in the following August, was most happy. An increasing confidence on the part of the British public in the financial soundness of the Canadian government, tended to offset the unfortunate effect produced by the agitation over the Act of Indemnification.

The attitude of Lord Elgin in regard to the Rebellion Losses Bill has been much discussed. At the time of the adoption of the measure his conduct was made the subject of mistaken censure from various quarters. He was blamed for not having refused his assent to the bill: he was blamed for not having dissolved the parliament: he was blamed for having afterwards remained for weeks at "Monklands" without having insisted on forcing his way into the city under military protection. Rut time has justified his conduct in every respect. One must read the journals of the time to appreciate how much the governor-general was called upon to bear, and with what grave responsibility the office of constitutional head of the country becomes invested in moments of danger. The Tory press was filled with bitter personal attacks. "This man's father," said the Montreal Courier, "was denounced by the noblest bard, but one, that England ever produced, as the Robber of the Greek Temples; his son will be heard of in future times as the man who lost for England the noble colony won by the blood of Wolfe." Compare with this the utterance of Lord Elgin made at the same time. "I am prepared to bear any amount of obloquy that may be cast upon me, but, if I can possibly prevent it, no stain of blood shall rest upon my name."

In his treatment of the Rebellion Losses Rill and his firm conviction that it was his duty to give his assent., Lord Elgin achieved for Canada one of the greatest victories of its constitutional progress. "By reserving the bill," wrote Lord Elgin afterwards, "I should only throw on Her Majesty's he reference is, of course, to the collection of the Elgin marblei -government a responsibility which rests, and I think, ought to rest, on me. ... If I had dissolved parliament, I might have produced a rebellion, but assuredly I should not have procured a change of ministry." As the sight of flame and the sound of riot drifts into the past, a momentous achievement appears written large on the surface of our history by Lord Elgin's acceptance of the Act of Indemnification. It signified that, from now on, the government of Canada, whether conducted ill or well, was at least to be conducted by the people—the majority of the people—of Canada itself. The history of responsible government in our country reaches here its culmination.


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