CHRONICLES OF CANADA Edited by George M. Wrong and H. H. Langton In thirty-two volumes
THE FATHER OF BRITISH CANADA A Chronicle of Carleton
By WILLIAM WOOD TORONTO, 1916
I. GUY CARLETON, 1724-1759 II. GENERAL MURRAY, 1759-1766 III. GOVERNOR CARLETON, 1766-1774 IV. INVASION, 1776 V. BELEAGUERMENT, 1775-1776 VI. DELIVERANCE, 1776 VII. THE COUNTERSTROKE, 1776-1778 VIII. GUARDING THE LOYALISTS, 1782-1783 IX. FOUNDING MODERN CANADA, 1786-1796 X. 'NUNC DIMITTIS,' 1796-1808
GUY CARLETON 1724-1759
Guy Carleton, first Baron Dorchester, was born at Strabane, County Tyrone, on the 3rd of September 1724, the anniversary of Cromwell's two great victories and death. He came of a very old family of English country gentlemen which had migrated to Ireland in the seventeenth century and intermarried with other Anglo-Irish families equally devoted to the service of the British Crown. Guy's father was Christopher Carleton of Newry in County Down. His mother was Catherine Ball of County Donegal. His father died comparatively young; and, when he was himself fifteen, his mother married the rector of Newry, the Reverend Thomas Skelton, whose influence over the six step-children of the household worked wholly for their good.
At eighteen Guy received his first commission as ensign in the 25th Foot, then known as Lord Rothes' regiment and now as the King's Own Scottish Borderers. At twenty-three he fought gallantly at the siege of Bergen-op-Zoom. Four years later (1751) he was a lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards. He was one of those quiet men whose sterling value is appreciated only by the few till some crisis makes it stand forth before the world at large. Pitt, Wolfe, and George II all recognized his solid virtues. At thirty he was still some way down the list of lieutenants in the Grenadiers, while Wolfe, two years his junior in age, had been four years in command of a battalion with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Yet he had long been 'my friend Carleton' to Wolfe, he was soon to become one of 'Pitt's Young Men,' and he was enough of a 'coming man' to incur the king's displeasure. He had criticized the Hanoverians; and the king never forgave him. The third George 'gloried in the name of Englishman.' But the first two were Hanoverian all through. And for an English guardsman to disparage the Hanoverian army was considered next door to lese-majeste.
Lady Dorchester burnt all her husband's private papers after his death in 1808; so we have lost some of the most intimate records concerning him. But 'grave Carleton' appears so frequently in the letters of his friend Wolfe that we can see his character as a young man in almost any aspect short of self-revelation. The first reference has nothing to do with affairs of state. In 1747 Wolfe, aged twenty, writing to Miss Lacey, an English girl in Brussels, and signing himself 'most sincerely your friend and admirer,' says: 'I was doing the greatest injustice to the dear girls to admit the least doubt of their constancy. Perhaps with respect to ourselves there may be cause of complaint. Carleton, I'm afraid, is a recent example of it.' From this we may infer that Carleton was less 'grave' as a young man than Wolfe found him later on. Six years afterwards Wolfe strongly recommended him for a position which he had himself been asked to fill, that of military tutor to the young Duke of Richmond, who was to get a company in Wolfe's own regiment. Writing home from Paris in 1753 Wolfe tells his mother that the duke 'wants some skilful man to travel with him through the Low Countries and into Lorraine. I have proposed my friend Carleton, whom Lord Albemarle approves of.' Lord Albemarle was the British ambassador to France; so Carleton got the post and travelled under the happiest auspices, while learning the frontier on which the Belgian, French, and British allies were to fight the Germans in the Great World War of 1914. It was during this military tour of fortified places that Carleton acquired the engineering skill which a few years later proved of such service to the British cause in Canada.
In 1754 George Washington, at that time a young Virginian officer of only twenty-two, fired the first shot in what presently became the world-wide Seven Years' War. The immediate result was disastrous to the British arms; and Washington had to give up the command of the Ohio by surrendering Fort Necessity to the French on—of all dates—the 4th of July! In 1755 came Braddock's defeat. In 1756 Montcalm arrived in Canada and won his first victory at Oswego. In 1757 Wolfe distinguished himself by formulating the plan which, if properly executed, would have prevented the British fiasco at Rochefort on the coast of France. But Carleton remained as undistinguished as before. He simply became lieutenant-colonel commanding the 72nd Foot, now the Seaforth Highlanders. In 1758 his chance appeared to have come at last. Amherst had asked for his services at Louisbourg. But the king had neither forgotten nor forgiven the remarks about the Hanoverians, and so refused point-blank, to Wolfe's 'very great grief and disappointment... It is a public loss Carleton's not going.' Wolfe's confidence in Carleton, either as a friend or as an officer, was stronger than ever. Writing to George Warde, afterwards the famous cavalry leader, he said: 'Accidents may happen in the family that may throw my little affairs into disorder. Carleton is so good as to say he will give what help is in his power. May I ask the same favour of you, my oldest friend?' Writing to Lord George Sackville, of whom we shall hear more than enough at the crisis of Carleton's career Wolfe said: 'Amherst will tell you his opinion of Carleton, by which you will probably be better convinced of our loss.' Again, 'We want grave Carleton for every purpose of the war.' And yet again, after the fall of Louisbourg: 'If His Majesty had thought proper to let Carleton come with us as engineer it would have cut the matter much shorter and we might now be ruining the walls of Quebec and completing the conquest of New France.' A little later on Wolfe blazes out with indignation over Carleton's supersession by a junior. 'Can Sir John Ligonier (the commander-in-chief) allow His Majesty to remain unacquainted with the merit of that officer, and can he see such a mark of displeasure without endeavouring to soften or clear the matter up a little? A man of honour has the right to expect the protection of his Colonel and of the Commander of the troops, and he can't serve without it. If I was in Carleton's place I wouldn't stay an hour in the Army after being aimed at and distinguished in so remarkable a manner.' But Carleton bided his time.
At the beginning of 1759 Wolfe was appointed to command the army destined to besiege Quebec. He immediately submitted Carleton's name for appointment as quartermaster-general. Pitt and Ligonier heartily approved. But the king again refused. Ligonier went back a second time to no purpose. Pitt then sent him in for the third time, saying, in a tone meant for the king to overhear: 'Tell His Majesty that in order to render the General [Wolfe] completely responsible for his conduct he should be made, as far as possible, inexcusable if he should fail; and that whatever an officer entrusted with such a service of confidence requests ought therefore to be granted.' The king then consented. Thus began Carleton's long, devoted, and successful service for Canada, the Empire, and the Crown.
Early in this memorable Empire Year of 1759 he sailed with Wolfe and Saunders from Spithead. On the 30th of April the fleet rendezvoused at Halifax, where Admiral Durell, second-in-command to Saunders, had spent the winter with a squadron intended to block the St Lawrence directly navigation opened in the spring. Durell was a good commonplace officer, but very slow. He had lost many hands from sickness during a particularly cold season, and he was not enterprising enough to start cruising round Cabot Strait before the month of May. Saunders, greatly annoyed by this delay, sent him off with eight men-of-war on the 5th of May. Wolfe gave him seven hundred soldiers under Carleton. These forces were sufficient to turn back, capture, or destroy the twenty-three French merchantmen which were then bound for Quebec with supplies and soldiers as reinforcements for Montcalm. But the French ships were a week ahead of Durell; and, when he landed Carleton at Isle-aux-Coudres on the 28th of May, the last of the enemy's transports had already discharged her cargo at Quebec, sixty miles above.
Isle-aux-Coudres, so named by Jacques Cartier in 1535, was a point of great strategic importance; for it commanded the only channel then used. It was the place Wolfe had chosen for his winter quarters, that is, in case of failure before Quebec and supposing he was not recalled. None but a particularly good officer would have been appointed as its first commandant. Carleton spent many busy days here preparing an advanced base for the coming siege, while the subsequently famous Captain Cook was equally busy 'a-sounding of the channell of the Traverse' which the fleet would have to pass on its way to Quebec. Some of Durell's ships destroyed the French 'long-shore batteries near this Traverse, at the lower end of the island of Orleans, while the rest kept ceaseless watch to seaward, anxiously scanning the offing, day after day, to make out the colours of the first fleet up. No one knew what the French West India fleet would do; and there was a very disconcerting chance that it might run north and slip into the St Lawrence, ahead of Saunders, in the same way as the French reinforcements had just slipped in ahead of Durell. Presently, at the first streak of dawn on the 23rd of June, a strong squadron was seen advancing rapidly under a press of sail. Instantly the officers of the watch called all hands up from below. The boatswains' whistles shrilled across the water as the seamen ran to quarters and cleared the decks for action. Carleton's camp was equally astir. The guards turned out. The bugles sounded. The men fell in and waited. Then the flag-ship signalled ashore that the strangers had just answered correctly in private code that all was well and that Wolfe and Saunders were aboard.
Next to Wolfe himself Carleton was the busiest man in the army throughout the siege of Quebec. In addition to his arduous and very responsible duties as quartermaster-general, he acted as inspector of engineers and as a special-service officer for work of an exceptionally confidential nature. As quartermaster-general he superintended the supply and transport branches. Considering that the army was operating in a devastated hostile country, a thousand miles away from its bases at Halifax and Louisbourg, and that the interaction of the different services—naval and military, Imperial and Colonial—required adjustment to a nicety at every turn, it was wonderful that so much was done so well with means which were far from being adequate. War prices of course ruled in the British camp. But they compared very favourably with the famine prices in Quebec, where most 'luxuries' soon became unobtainable at any price. There were no canteen or camp-follower scandals under Carleton. Then, as now, every soldier had a regulation ration of food and a regulation allowance for his service kit. But 'extras' were always acceptable. The price-list of these 'extras' reads strangely to modern ears. But, under the circumstances, it was not exorbitant, and it was slightly tempered by being reckoned in Halifax currency of four dollars to the pound instead of five. The British Tommy Atkins of that and many a later day thought Canada a wonderful country for making money go a long way when he could buy a pot of beer for twopence and get back thirteen pence Halifax currency as change for his English shilling. Beef and ham ran from ninepence to a shilling a pound. Mutton was a little dearer. Salt butter was eightpence to one-and-threepence. Cheese was tenpence; potatoes from five to ten shillings a bushel. 'A reasonable loaf of good soft Bread' cost sixpence. Soap was a shilling a pound. Tea was prohibitive for all but the officers. 'Plain Green Tea and very Badd' was fifteen shillings, 'Couchon' twenty shillings, 'Hyson' thirty. Leaf tobacco was tenpence a pound, roll one-and-tenpence, snuff two-and-threepence. Sugar was a shilling to eighteen pence. Lemons were sixpence apiece. The non-intoxicating 'Bad Sproos Beer' was only twopence a quart and helped to keep off scurvy. Real beer, like wine and spirits, was more expensive. 'Bristol Beer' was eighteen shillings a dozen, 'Bad malt Drink from Hellifax' ninepence a quart. Rum and claret were eight shillings a gallon each, port and Madeira ten and twelve respectively. The term 'Bad' did not then mean noxious, but only inferior. It stood against every low-grade article in the price-list. No goods were over-classified while Carleton was quartermaster-general.
The engineers were under-staffed, under-manned, and overworked. There were no Royal Engineers as a permanent and comprehensive corps till the time of Wellington. Wolfe complained bitterly and often of the lack of men and materials for scientific siege work. But he 'relied on Carleton' to good purpose in this respect as well as in many others. In his celebrated dispatch to Pitt he mentions Carleton twice. It was Carleton whom he sent to seize the west end of the island of Orleans, so as to command the basin of Quebec, and Carleton whom he sent to take prisoners and gather information at Pointe-aux-Trembles, twenty miles above the city. Whether or not he revealed the whole of his final plan to Carleton is probably more than we shall ever know, since Carleton's papers were destroyed. But we do know that he did not reveal it to any one else, not even to his three brigadiers, Monckton, Townshend, and Murray.
Carleton was wounded in the head during the Battle of the Plains; but soon returned to duty. Wolfe showed his confidence in him to the last. Carleton's was the only name mentioned twice in the will which Wolfe handed over to Jervis, the future Lord St Vincent, the night before the battle. 'I leave to Colonel Oughton, Colonel Carleton, Colonel Howe, and Colonel Warde a thousand pounds each.' 'All my books and papers, both here and in England, I leave to Colonel Carleton.' Wolfe's mother, who died five years later, showed the same confidence by appointing Carleton her executor.
With the fall of Quebec in 1759 Carleton disappears from the Canadian scene till 1766. But so many pregnant events happened in Canada during these seven years, while so few happened in his own career, that it is much more important for us to follow her history than his biography.
In 1761 he was wounded at the storming of Port Andro during the attack on Belle Isle off the west coast of France. In 1762 he was wounded at Havana in the West Indies. After that he enjoyed four years of quietness at home. Then came the exceedingly difficult task of guiding Canada through twelve years of turbulent politics and most subversive war.
GENERAL MURRAY 1759-1766
Both armies spent a terrible winter after the Battle of the Plains. There was better shelter for the French in Montreal than for the British among the ruins of Quebec. But in the matter of food the positions were reversed. Nevertheless the French gallantly refused the truce offered them by Murray, who had now succeeded Wolfe. They were determined to make a supreme effort to regain Quebec in the spring; and they were equally determined that the habitants should not be free to supply the British with provisions.
In spite of the state of war, however, the French and British officers, even as prisoners and captors, began to make friends. They had found each other foemen worthy of their steel. A distinguished French officer, the Comte de Malartic, writing to Levis, Montcalm's successor, said: 'I cannot speak too highly of General Murray, although he is our enemy.' Murray, on his part, was equally loud and generous in his praise of the French. The Canadian seigneurs found fellow-gentlemen among the British officers. The priests and nuns of Quebec found many fellow-Catholics among the Scottish and Irish troops, and nothing but courteous treatment from the soldiers of every rank and form of religion. Murray directed that 'the compliment of the hat' should be paid to all religious processions. The Ursuline nuns knitted long stockings for the bare-legged Highlanders when the winter came on, and presented each Scottish officer with an embroidered St Andrew's Cross on the 30th of November, St Andrew's Day. The whole garrison won the regard of the town by giving up part of their rations for the hungry poor; while the habitants from the surrounding country presently began to find out that the British were honest to deal with and most humane, though sternly just, as conquerors.
In the following April Levis made his desperate throw for victory; and actually did succeed in defeating Murray outside the walls of Quebec. But the British fleet came up in May; and that summer three British armies converged on Montreal, where the last doomed remnants of French power on the St Lawrence stood despairingly at bay. When Levis found his two thousand effective French regulars surrounded by eight times as many British troops he had no choice but to lay down the arms of France for ever. On the 8th of September 1760 his gallant little army was included in the Capitulation of Montreal, by which the whole of Canada passed into the possession of the British Crown.
Great Britain had a different general idea for each one of the four decades which immediately followed the conquest of Canada. In the sixties the general idea was to kill refractory old French ways with a double dose of new British liberty and kindness, so that Canada might gradually become the loyal fourteenth colony of the Empire in America. But the fates were against this benevolent scheme. The French Canadians were firmly wedded to their old ways of life, except in so far as the new liberty enabled them to throw off irksome duties and restraints, while the new English-speaking 'colonists' were so few, and mostly so bad, that they became the cause of endless discord where harmony was essential. In the seventies the idea was to restore the old French-Canadian life so as not only to make Canada proof against the disaffection of the Thirteen Colonies but also to make her a safe base of operations against rebellious Americans. In the eighties the great concern of the government was to make a harmonious whole out of two very widely differing parts—the long-settled French Canadians and the newly arrived United Empire Loyalists. In the nineties each of these parts was set to work out its own salvation under its own provincial constitution.
Carleton's is the only personality which links together all four decades—the would-be American sixties, the French-Canadian seventies, the Anglo-French-Canadian eighties, and the bi-constitutional nineties—though, as mentioned already, Murray ruled Canada for the first seven years, 1759-66.
James Murray, the first British governor of Canada, was a younger son of the fourth Lord Elibank. He was just over forty, warm-hearted and warm-tempered, an excellent French scholar, and every inch a soldier. He had been a witness for the defence of Mordaunt at the court-martial held to try the authors of the Rochefort fiasco in 1757. Wolfe, who was a witness on the other side, referred to him later on as 'my old antagonist Murray.' But Wolfe knew a good man when he saw one and gave his full confidence to his 'old antagonist' both at Louisbourg and Quebec. Murray was not born under a lucky star. He saw three defeats in three successive wars. He began his service with the abortive attack on pestilential Cartagena, where Wolfe's father was present as adjutant-general. In mid-career he lost the battle of Ste Foy. [Footnote: See The Winning of Canada, chap. viii. See also, for the best account of this battle and other events of the year between Wolfe's victory and the surrender of Montreal, The Fall of Canada, by George M. Wrong. Oxford, 1914.] And his active military life ended with his surrender of Minorca in 1782. But he was greatly distinguished for honour and steadfastness on all occasions. An admiring contemporary described him as a model of all the military virtues except prudence. But he had more prudence and less genius than his admirer thought; and he showed a marked talent for general government. The problem before him was harder than his superiors could believe. He was expected to prepare for assimilation some sixty-five thousand 'new subjects' who were mostly alien in religion and wholly alien in every other way. But, for the moment, this proved the least of his many difficulties because no immediate results were required.
While the war went on in Europe Canada remained nominally a part of the enemy's dominions, and so, of course, was subject to military rule. Sir Jeffery Amherst, the British commander-in-chief in America, took up his headquarters in New York. Under him Murray commanded Canada from Quebec. Under Murray, Colonel Burton commanded the district of Three Rivers while General Gage commanded the district of Montreal, which then extended to the western wilds. [Footnote: See The War Chief of the Ottawas, chap. iii.]
Murray's first great trouble arose in 1761. It was caused by an outrageous War Office order that fourpence a day should be stopped from the soldiers to pay for the rations they had always got free. Such gross injustice, coming in time of war and applied to soldiers who richly deserved reward, made the veterans 'mad with rage.' Quebec promised to be the scene of a wild mutiny. Murray, like all his officers, thought the stoppage nothing short of robbery. But he threw himself into the breach. He assembled the officers and explained that they must die to the last man rather than allow the mutineers a free hand. He then held a general parade at which he ordered the troops to march between two flag-poles on pain of instant death, promising to kill with his own hands the first man who refused. He added that he was ready to hear and forward any well-founded complaint, but that, since insubordination had been openly threatened, he would insist on subordination being publicly shown. Then, amid tense silence, he gave the word of command—Quick, March!—while every officer felt his trigger. To the immense relief of all concerned the men stepped off, marched straight between the flags and back to quarters, tamed. The criminal War Office blunder was rectified and peace was restored in the ranks.
'Murray's Report' of 1762 gives us a good view of the Canada of that day and shows the attitude of the British towards their new possession. Canada had been conquered by Great Britain, with some help from the American colonies, for three main reasons: first, to strike a death-blow at French dominion in America; secondly, to increase the opportunities of British seaborne trade; and, thirdly, to enlarge the area available for British settlement. When Murray was instructed to prepare a report on Canada he had to keep all this in mind; for the government wished to satisfy the public both at home and in the colonies. He had to examine the military strength of the country and the disposition of its population in case of future wars with France. He had to satisfy the natural curiosity of men like the London merchants. And he had to show how and where English-speaking settlers could go in and make Canada not only a British possession but the fourteenth British colony in North America. Burton and Gage were also instructed to report about their own districts of Three Rivers and Montreal. The documents they prepared were tacked on to Murray's. By June 1762 the work was completed and sent on to Amherst, who sent it to England in ample time to be studied there before the opening of the impending negotiations for peace.
Murray was greatly concerned about the military strength of Quebec, then, as always, the key of Canada. Like the unfortunate Montcalm he found the walls of Quebec badly built, badly placed, and falling into ruins, and he thought they could not be defended by three thousand men against 'a well conducted Coup-de-main.' He proposed to crown Cape Diamond with a proper citadel, which would overawe the disaffected in Quebec itself and defend the place against an outside enemy long enough to let a British fleet come up to its relief. The rest of the country was defended by little garrisons at Three Rivers and Montreal as well as by several small detachments distributed among the trading-posts where the white men and the red met in the depths of the western wilderness.
The relations between the British garrison and the French Canadians were so excellent that what Gage reported from Montreal might be taken as equally true of the rest of the country: 'The Soldiers live peaceably with the Inhabitants and they reciprocally acquire an affection for each other.' The French Canadians numbered sixty-five thousand altogether, exclusive of the fur traders and coureurs de bois. Barely fifteen thousand lived in the three little towns of Quebec, Montreal, and Three Rivers; while over fifty thousand lived in the country. Nearly all the officials had gone back to France. The three classes of greatest importance were the seigneurs, the clergy, and the habitants. The lawyers were not of much account; the petty commercial classes of less account still. The coureurs de bois and other fur traders formed an important link between the savage and the civilized life of the country.
Apart from furs the trade of Canada was contemptibly small in the eyes of men like the London merchants. But the opportunity of fostering all the fur trade that could be carried down the St Lawrence was very well worth while; and if there was no other existing trade worth capturing there seemed to be some kinds worth creating. Murray held out well-grounded hopes of the fisheries and forests. 'A Most immense Cod Fishery can be established in the River and Gulph of St Lawrence. A rich tract of country on the South Side of the Gulph will be settled and improved, and a port or ports furnished with every material requisite to repair ships.' He then went on to enumerate the other kinds of fishery, the abundance of whales, seals, and walruses in the Gulf, and of salmon up all the tributary rivers. Burton recommends immediate attention to the iron mines behind Three Rivers. All the governors expatiate on the vast amount of forest wealth and remind the home government that under the French regime the king, when making out patents for the seigneurs, reserved the right of taking wood for ship-building and fortifications from any of the seigneuries. Agriculture was found to be in a very backward state. The habitants would raise no more than they required for their own use and for a little local trade. But the fault was attributed to the gambling attractions of the fur trade, to the bad governmental system, and to the frequent interruptions of the corvee, a kind of forced labour which was meant to serve the public interest, but which Bigot and other thievish officials always turned to their own private advantage. On the whole, the reports were most encouraging in the prospects they held out to honest labour, trade, and government.
While Murray and his lieutenants had been collecting information for their reports the home government had been undergoing many changes for the worse. The master-statesman Pitt had gone out of power and the back-stairs politician Bute had come in. Pitt's 'bloody and expensive war'—the war that more than any other, laid the foundations of the present British Empire—was to be ended on any terms the country could be persuaded to bear. Thus the end of the Seven Years' War, or, as the British part of it was more correctly called, the 'Maritime War,' was no more glorious in statesmanship than its beginning had been in arms. But the spirit of its mighty heart still lived on in the Empire's grateful memories of Pitt and quickened the English-speaking world enough to prevent any really disgraceful surrender of the hard-won fruits of victory.
The Treaty of Paris, signed on the 10th of February 1763, and the king's proclamation, published in October, were duly followed by the inauguration of civil government in Canada. The incompetent Bute, anxious to get Pitt out of the way, tried to induce him to become the first British governor of the new colony. Even Bute probably never dared to hope that Pitt would actually go out to Canada. But he did hope to lower his prestige by making him the holder of a sinecure at home. However this may be, Pitt, mightiest of all parliamentary ministers of war, refused to be made either a jobber or an exile; whereupon Murray's position was changed from a military command into that of 'Governor and Captain-General.'
The changes which ensued in the laws of Canada were heartily welcomed so far as the adoption of the humaner criminal code of England was concerned. The new laws relating to debtor and creditor also gave general satisfaction, except, as we shall presently see, when they involved imprisonment for debt. But the tentative efforts to introduce English civil law side by side with the old French code resulted in great confusion and much discontent. The land laws had become so unworkable under this dual system that they had to be left as they were. A Court of Common Pleas was set up specially for the benefit of the French Canadians. If either party demanded a jury one had to be sworn in; and French Canadians were to be jurors on equal terms with 'the King's Old Subjects.' The Roman Catholic Church was to be completely tolerated but not in any way established. Lord Egremont, in giving the king's instructions to Murray, reminded him that the proviso in the Treaty of Paris—as far as the Laws of Great Britain permit—should govern his action whenever disputes arose. It must be remembered that the last Jacobite rising was then a comparatively recent affair, and that France was equally ready to upset either the Protestant succession in England or the British regime in Canada.
The Indians were also an object of special solicitude in the royal proclamation. 'The Indians who live under our Protection should not be molested in the possession of such parts of our Dominions and Territories as, not having been ceded to or purchased by Us, are reserved to them.' The home government was far in advance of the American colonists in its humane attitude towards the Indians. The common American attitude then and long afterwards —indeed, up to a time well within living memory—was that Indians were a kind of human vermin to be exterminated without mercy, unless, of course, more money was to be made out of them alive. The result was an endless struggle along the ever-receding frontier of the West. And just at this particular time the 'Conspiracy of Pontiac' had brought about something like a real war. The story of this great effort of the Indians to stem the encroachments of the exterminating colonists is told in another chronicle of the present Series. [Footnote: The War Chief of the Ottawas.] The French traders in the West undoubtedly had a hand in stirring up the Indians. Pontiac, a sort of Indian Napoleon, was undoubtedly cruel as well as crafty. And the Indians undoubtedly fought just as the ancestors of the French and British used to fight when they were at the corresponding stage of social evolution. But the mere fact that so many jealously distinct tribes united in this common cause proves how much they all must have suffered at the hands of the colonists.
While Pontiac's war continued in the West Murray had to deal with a political war in Canada which rose to its height in 1764. The king's proclamation of the previous October had 'given express Power to our Governor that, so soon as the state and circumstances of the said Colony will admit thereof, he shall call a General Assembly in such manner and form as is used in those Colonies and Provinces in America which are under our immediate government.' The intention of establishing parliamentary institutions was, therefore, perfectly clear. But it was equally clear that the introduction of such institutions was to depend on 'circumstances,' and it is well to remember here that these 'circumstances' were not held to warrant the opening of a Canadian parliament till 1792. Now, the military government had been a great success. There was every reason to suppose that civil government by a governor and council would be the next best thing. And it was quite certain that calling a 'General Assembly' at once would defeat the very ends which such bodies are designed to serve. More than ninety-nine per cent of the population were dead against an assembly which none of them understood and all distrusted. On the other hand, the clamorous minority of less than one per cent were in favour only of a parliament from which the majority should be rigorously excluded, even, if possible, as voters. The immense majority comprised the entire French-Canadian community. The absurdly small minority consisted mostly of Americanized camp-following traders, who, having come to fish in troubled waters, naturally wanted the laws made to suit poachers. The British garrison, the governing officials, and the very few other English-speaking people of a more enlightened class all looked down on the rancorous minority. The whole question resolved itself into this: should Canada be handed over to the licensed exploitation of a few hundred low-class camp-followers, who had done nothing to win her for the British Empire, who were despised by those who had, and who promised to be a dangerous thorn in the side of the new colony?
What this ridiculous minority of grab-alls really wanted was not a parliament but a rump. Many a representative assembly has ended in a rump, The grab-alls wished to begin with one and stop there. It might be supposed that such pretensions would defeat themselves. But there was a twofold difficulty in the way of getting the truth understood by the English-speaking public on both sides of the Atlantic. In the first place, the French Canadians were practically dumb to the outside world. In the second, the vociferous rumpites had the ear of some English and more American commercial people who were not anxious to understand; while the great mass of the general public were inclined to think, if they ever thought at all, that parliamentary government must mean more liberty for every one concerned.
A singularly apt commentary on the pretensions of the camp-followers is supplied by the famous, or infamous, 'Presentment of the Grand Jury of Quebec' in October 1764. The moving spirits of this precious jury were aspirants to membership in the strictly exclusive, rumpish little parliament of their own seeking. The signatures of the French-Canadian members were obtained by fraud, as was subsequently proved by a sworn official protestation. The first presentment tells its own tale, as it refers to the only courts in which French-Canadian lawyers were allowed to plead. 'The great number of inferior Courts are tiresome, litigious, and expensive to this poor Colony.' Then came a hit at the previous military rule—'That Decrees of the military Courts may be amended [after having been confirmed by legal ordinance] by allowing Appeals if the matter decided exceed Ten Pounds,' which would put it out of the reach of the 'inferior Courts' and into the clutches of 'the King's Old Subjects.' But the gist of it all was contained in the following: 'We represent that as the Grand Jury must be considered at present as the only Body representative of the Colony, ... We propose that the Publick Accounts be laid before the Grand Jury at least twice a year.' That the grand jury was to be purged of all its French-Canadian members is evident from the addendum slipped in behind their backs. This addendum is a fine specimen of verbose invective against 'the Church of Rome,' the Pope, Bulls, Briefs, absolutions, etc., the empanelling 'en Grand and petty Jurys' of 'papist or popish Recusants Convict,' and so on.
The 'Presentment of the Grand Jury' was presently followed by The Humble Petition of Your Majesty's most faithful and loyal Subjects, British Merchants and Traders, in behalf of Themselves and their fellow Subjects, Inhabitants of Your Majesty's Province of Quebec. 'Their fellow Subjects' did not, of course, include any 'papist or popish Recusants Convict.' Among the 'Grievances and Distresses' enumerated were 'the oppressive and severely felt Military government,' the inability to 'reap the fruit of our Industry' under such a martinet as Murray, who, in one paragraph, is accused of 'suppressing dutyfull Remonstrances in Silence' and, in the next, of 'treating them with a Rage and Rudeness of Language and Demeanor as dishonourable to the Trust he holds of Your Majesty as painfull to Those who suffer from it.' Finally, the petitioners solemnly warn His Majesty that their 'Lives in the Province are so very unhappy that we must be under the Necessity of removing from it, unless timely prevented by a Removal of the present Governor.'
In forwarding this document Murray poured out the vials of his wrath on 'the Licentious Fanaticks Trading here,' while he boldly championed the cause of the French Canadians, 'a Race, who, could they be indulged with a few priveledges which the Laws of England deny to Roman Catholicks at home, would soon get the better of every National Antipathy to their Conquerors and become the most faithful and most useful set of Men in this American Empire.'
While these charges and counter-charges were crossing the Atlantic another, and much more violent, trouble came to a head. As there were no barracks in Canada billeting was a necessity. It was made as little burdensome as possible and the houses of magistrates were specially exempt. This, however, did not prevent the magistrates from baiting the military whenever they got the chance. Fines, imprisonments, and other sentences, out of all proportion to the offence committed, were heaped on every redcoat in much the same way as was then being practised in Boston and other hotbeds of disaffection. The redcoats had done their work in ridding America of the old French menace. They were doing it now in ridding the colonies of the last serious menace from the Indians. And so the colonists, having no further use for them, began trying to make the land they had delivered too hot to hold them. There were, of course, exceptions; and the American colonists had some real as well as pretended grievances. But wantonly baiting the redcoats had already become a most discreditable general practice.
Montreal was most in touch with the disaffected people to the south. It also had a magistrate of the name of Walker, the most rancorous of all the disaffected magistrates in Canada. This Walker, well mated with an equally rancorous wife, was the same man who entertained Benjamin Franklin and the other commissioners sent by Congress into Canada in 1776, the year in which both the American Republic and a truly British Canada were born. He would not have been flattered could he have seen the entry Franklin made about him and his wife in a diary which is still extant. The gist of it was that wherever the Walkers might be they would soon set the place by the ears. Walker, of course, was foremost in the persecution of the redcoats; and he eagerly seized his opportunity when an officer was billeted in a house where a brother magistrate happened to be living as a lodger. Under such circumstances the magistrate could not claim exemption. But this made no difference either to him or to Walker. Captain Payne, the gentleman whose presence enraged these boors, was seized and thrown into gaol. The chief justice granted a writ of habeas corpus. But the mischief was done and resentment waxed high. The French-Canadian seigneurs sympathized with Payne, which added fuel to the magisterial flame; and Murray, scenting danger, summoned the whole bench down to Quebec.
But before this bench of bumbles started some masked men seized Walker in his own house and gave him a good sound thrashing. Unfortunately they spoilt the fair reprisal by cutting off his ear. That very night the news had run round Montreal and made a start for Boston and Quebec. Feeling ran high; and higher still when, a few weeks later, the civil magistrates vented their rage on several redcoats by imposing sentences exceeding even the utmost limits of their previous vindictive action. Montreal became panic-stricken lest the soldiers, baited past endurance, should break out in open violence. Murray drove up, post-haste, from Quebec, ordered the affected regiment to another station, reproved the offending magistrates, and re-established public confidence. Official and private rewards were offered to any witnesses who would identify Walker's assailants. But in vain. The smouldering fire burst out again under Carleton. But the mystery was never cleared up.
Things had now come to a crisis. The London merchants, knowing nothing about the internal affairs of Canada, backed the petition of the Quebec traders, who were quite unworthy of such support from men of real business probity and knowledge. The magisterial faction in Canada advertised their side of the case all over the colonies and in any sympathetic quarter they could find in England. The seigneurs sent home a warm defence of Murray; and Murray himself sent Cramahe, a very able Swiss officer in the British Army. The home government thus had plenty of contradictory evidence before it in 1765. The result was that Murray was called home in 1766, rather in a spirit of open-minded and sympathetic inquiry into his conduct than with any idea of censuring him. He never returned to Canada. But as he held the titular governorship for some time longer, and as he was afterwards employed in positions of great responsibility and trust, the verdict of the home authorities was clearly given in his favour.
The troublous year of 1764 saw another innovation almost as revolutionary, compared with the old regime, as the introduction of civil government itself. This was the issue of the first newspaper in Canada, where, indeed, it was also the first printed thing of any kind. Nova Scotia had produced an earlier paper, the Halifax Gazette, which lived an intermittent life from 1752 to 1800. But no press had ever been allowed in New France. The few documents that required printing had always been done in the mother country. Brown and Gilmore, two Philadelphians, were thus undertaking a pioneer business when they announced that 'Our Design is, in case we are fortunate enough to succeed, early in this spring to settle in this City [Quebec] in the capacity of Printers, and forthwith to publish a weekly newspaper in French and English.' The Quebec Gazette, which first appeared on the 21st of the following June, has continued to the present time, though it is now a daily and is known as the Quebec Chronicle. Centenarian papers are not common in any country; and those that have lived over a century and a half are very few indeed. So the Quebec Chronicle, which is the second surviving senior in America, is also among the great press seniors of the world.
The original number is one of the curiosities of journalism. The publishers felt tolerably sure of having what was then considered a good deal of recent news for their three hundred readers during the open season. But, knowing that the supply would be both short and stale in winter, they held out prospects of a Canadian Tatler or Spectator, without, however, being rash enough to promise a supply of Addisons and Steeles. Their announcement makes curious reading at the present day.
The Rigour of Winter preventing the arrival of ships from Europe, and in a great measure interrupting the ordinary intercourse with the Southern Provinces, it will be necessary, in a paper designed for General Perusal, and Publick Utility, to provide some things of general Entertainment, independent of foreign intelligence: we shall therefore, on such occasions, present our Readers with such Originals, both in Prose and Verse, as will please the FANCY and instruct the JUDGMENT. And here we beg leave to observe that we shall have nothing so much at heart as the support of VIRTUE and MORALITY and the noble cause of LIBERTY. The refined amusements of LITERATURE, and the pleasing veins of well pointed wit, shall also be considered as necessary to this collection; interspersed with chosen pieces, and curious essays, extracted from the most celebrated authors; So that, blending PHILOSOPHY with POLITICKS, HISTORY, &c., the youth of both sexes will be improved and persons of all ranks agreeably and usefully entertained. And upon the whole we will labour to attain to all the exactness that so much variety will permit, and give as much variety as will consist with a reasonable exactness. And as this part of our project cannot be carried into execution without the correspondence of the INGENIOUS, we shall take all opportunities of acknowledging our obligations, to those who take the trouble of furnishing any matter which shall tend to entertainment or instruction. Our Intentions to please the Whole, without offence to any Individual, will be better evinced by our practice, than by writing volumes on the subject. This one thing we beg may be believed, that PARTY PREJUDICE, or PRIVATE SCANDAL, will never find a place in this PAPER.
GOVERNOR CARLETON 1766-1774
The twelve years of Carleton's first administration naturally fall into three distinct periods of equal length. During the first he was busily employed settling as many difficulties as he could, examining the general state of the country, and gradually growing into the change that was developing in the minds of the home government, the change, that is, from the Americanizing sixties to the French-Canadian seventies. During the second period he was in England, helping to shape the famous Quebec Act. During the third he was defending Canada from American attack and aiding the British counterstroke by every means in his power.
On the 22nd of September 1766 Carleton arrived at Quebec and began his thirty years' experience as a Canadian administrator by taking over the government from Colonel Irving, who had held it since Murray's departure in the spring. Irving had succeeded Murray simply because he happened to be the senior officer present at the time. Carleton himself was technically Murray's lieutenant till 1768. But neither of these facts really affected the course of Canadian history.
The Council, the magistrates, and the traders each presented. the new governor with an address containing the usual professions of loyal devotion. Carleton remarked in his dispatch that these separate addresses, and the marked absence of any united address, showed how much the population was divided. He also noted that a good many of the English-speaking minority had objected to the addresses on account of their own opposition to the Stamp Act, and that there had been some broken heads in consequence. Troubles enough soon engaged his anxious attention—troubles over the Indian trade, the rights and wrongs of the Canadian Jesuits, the wounded dignity of some members of the Council, and the still smouldering and ever mysterious Walker affair.
The strife between Canada and the Thirteen Colonies over the Indian trade of the West remained the same in principle as under the old regime. The Conquest had merely changed the old rivalry between two foreign powers into one between two widely differing British possessions; and this, because of the general unrest among the Americans, made the competition more bitter, if possible, than ever.
The Jesuits pressed their claims for recognition, for their original estates, and for compensation. But their order had fallen on evil days all over the world. It was not popular even in Canada. And the arrangement was that while the existing members were to be treated with every consideration the Society itself was to be allowed to die out.
The offended councillors went so far as to present Carleton with a remonstrance which Irving himself had the misfortune to sign. Carleton had consulted some members on points with which they were specially acquainted. The members who had not been consulted thereupon protested to Irving, who assured them that Carleton must have done so by accident, not design. But when Carleton received a joint letter in which they said, 'As you are pleased to signifye to Us by Coll. Irving that it was accident, & not Intention,' he at once replied: 'As Lieutenant Colonel Irving has signified to you that the Part of my Conduct you think worthy of your Reprehension happened by Accident let him explain his reasons for so doing. He had no authority from me.' Carleton then went on to say that he would consult any 'Men of Good Sense, Truth, Candour, and Impartial Justice' whenever he chose, no matter whether they were councillors or not.
The Walker affair, which now broke out again, was much more serious than the storm in the Council's teacup. It agitated the whole of Canada and threatened to range the population of Montreal and Quebec into two irreconcilable factions, the civil and the military. For the whole of the two years since Murray had been called upon to deal with it cleverly presented versions of Walker's views had been spread all over the colonies and worked into influential Opposition circles in England. The invectives against the redcoats and their friends the seigneurs were of the usual abusive type. But they had an unusually powerful effect at that particular time in the Thirteen Colonies as well as in what their authors hoped to make a Fourteenth Colony after a fashion of their own; and they looked plausible enough to mislead a good many moderate men in the mother country too. Walker's case was that he had an actual witness, as to the identity of his assailants, in the person of McGovoch, a discharged soldier, who laid information against one civilian, three British officers, and the celebrated French-Canadian leader, La Corne de St Luc. All the accused were arrested in their beds in Montreal and thrown into the common gaol. Walker objected to bail on the plea that his life would be in danger if they were allowed at large. He also sought to postpone the trial in order to punish the accused as much as possible, guilty or innocent. But William Hey, the chief justice, an able and upright man, would consent to postponement only on condition that bail should be allowed; so the trial proceeded. When the grand jury threw out the case against one of the prisoners Walker let loose such a flood of virulent abuse that moderate men were turned against him. In the end all the accused were honourably acquitted, while McGovoch, who was proved to have been a false witness from the first, was convicted of perjury. Carleton remained absolutely impartial all through, and even dismissed Colonel Irving and another member of the Council for heading a petition on behalf of the military prisoners.
The Walker affair was an instance of a bad case in which the law at last worked well. But there were many others in which it did not. What with the Coutume de Paris, which is still quoted in the province of Quebec; the other complexities of the old French law; the doubtful meanings drawn from the capitulation, the treaty, the proclamation, and the various ordinances; the instinctive opposition between the French Canadians and the English-speaking civilians; and, finally, what with the portents of subversive change that were already beginning to overshadow all America,—what with all this and more, Carleton found himself faced with a problem which no man could have solved to the satisfaction of every one concerned. Each side in a lawsuit took whatever amalgam of French and English codes was best for its own argument. But, generally speaking, the ingrained feeling of the French Canadians was against any change of their own laws that was not visibly and immediately beneficial to their own particular interests. Moreover, the use of the unknown English language, the worthlessness of the rapacious English-speaking magistrates, and the detested innovation of imprisonment for debt, all combined to make every part of English civil law hated simply because it happened to be English and not French. The home authorities were anxious to find some workable compromise. In 1767 Carleton exchanged several important dispatches with them; and in 1768 they sent out Maurice Morgan to study and report, after consultation with the chief justice and 'other well instructed persons.' Morgan was an indefatigable and clear-sighted man who deserves to be gratefully remembered by both races; for he was a good friend both to the French Canadians before the Quebec Act and to the United Empire Loyalists just before their great migration, when he was Carleton's secretary at New York. In 1769 the official correspondence entered the 'secret and confidential' stage with a dispatch from the home government to Carleton suggesting a House of Representatives to which, practically speaking, the towns would send Protestant members and the country districts Roman Catholics.
In 1770 Carleton sailed for England. He carried a good deal of hard-won experience with him, both on this point and on many others. He went home with a strong opinion not only against an assembly but against any immediate attempts at Anglicization in any form. The royal instructions that had accompanied his commission as 'Captain-General and Governor-in-chief' in 1768 contained directions for establishing the Church of England with a view to converting the whole population to its tenets later on. But no steps had been taken, and, needless to say, the French Canadians remained as Roman Catholic as ever.
An increasingly important question, soon to overshadow all others, was defence. In April 1768 Carleton had proposed the restoration of the seigneurial militia system. 'All the Lands here are held of His Majesty's Castle of St Lewis [the governor's official residence in Quebec]. The Oath which the Vassals [seigneurs] take is very Solemn and Binding. They are obliged to appear in Arms for the King's defence, in case his Province is attacked.' Carleton pointed out that a hundred men of the Canadian seigneurial families were being kept on full pay in France, ready to return and raise the Canadians at the first opportunity. 'On the other hand, there are only about seventy of these officers in Canada who have been in the French service. Not one of them has been given a commission in the King's [George's] Service, nor is there One who, from any motive whatever, is induced to support His Government.' The few French Canadians raised for Pontiac's war had of course been properly paid during the continuance of their active service. But they had been disbanded like mere militia afterwards, without either gratuities or half-pay for the officers. This naturally made the class from which officers were drawn think that no career was open to them under the Union Jack and turned their thoughts towards France, where their fellows were enjoying full pay without a break.
What made this the more serious was the weakness of the regular garrisons, all of which, put together, numbered only 1,627 men. Carleton calculated that about five hundred of 'the King's Old Subjects' were capable of bearing arms; though most of them were better at talking than fighting. He had nothing but contempt for 'the flimsy wall round Montreal,' and relied little more on the very defective works at Quebec. Thus with all his wonderful equanimity, 'grave Carleton' left Canada with no light heart when he took six months' leave of absence in 1770; and he would have been more anxious still if he could have foreseen that his absence was to be prolonged to no less than four years.
He had, however, two great satisfactions. He was represented at Quebec by a most steadfast lieutenant, the quiet, alert, discreet, and determined Cramahe; and he was leaving Canada after having given proof of a disinterestedness which was worthy of the elder Pitt himself. When Pitt became Paymaster-General of England he at once declined to use the two chief perquisites of his office, the interest on the government balance and the half per cent commission on foreign subsidies, though both were regarded as a kind of indirect salary. When Carleton became governor of Canada he at once issued a proclamation abolishing all the fees and perquisites attached to his position and explained his action to the home authorities in the following words: 'There is a certain appearance of dirt, a sort of meanness, in exacting fees on every occasion. I think it necessary for the King's service that his representative should be thought unsullied.' Murray, who had accepted the fees, at first took umbrage. But Carleton soon put matters straight with him. The fact was that fees, and even certain perquisites, were no dishonour to receive, as they nearly always formed a recognized part, and often the whole, of a perfectly legal salary. But fees and perquisites could be abused; and they did lead to misunderstandings, even when they were not abused; while fixed salaries were free from both objections. So Carleton, surrounded by shamelessly rapacious magistrates and the whole vile camp-following gang, as well as by French Canadians who had suffered from the robberies of Bigot and his like, decided to sacrifice everything but his indispensable fixed salary in order that even the most malicious critics could not bring any accusation, however false, against the man who represented Britain and her king.
An interesting personal interlude, which was not without considerable effect on Canadian history, took place in the middle of Carleton's four years' stay in England. He was forty-eight and still a bachelor. Tradition whispers that these long years of single life were the result of a disappointing love affair with Jane Carleton, a pretty cousin, when both he and she were young. However that may be, he now proposed to Lady Anne Howard, whose father, the Earl of Effingham, was one of his greatest friends. But he was doomed to a second, though doubtless very minor, disappointment. Lady Anne, who probably looked on 'grave Carleton' as a sort of amiable, middle-aged uncle, had fallen in love with his nephew, whom she presently married, and with whom she afterwards went out to Canada, where her husband served under the rejected uncle himself. What added spice to this peculiar situation was the fact that Carleton actually married the younger sister of the too-youthful Lady Anne. When Lady Anne rejoined her sister and their bosom friend, Miss Seymour, after the disconcerting interview with Carleton, she explained her tears by saying they were due to her having been 'obliged to refuse the best man on earth.' 'The more fool you!' answered the younger sister, Lady Maria, then just eighteen, 'I only wish he had given me the chance!' There, for the time, the matter ended. Carleton went back to his official duties in furtherance of the Quebec Act. His nephew and the elder sister made mutual love. Lady Maria held her tongue. But Miss Seymour had not forgotten; and one day she mustered up courage to tell Carleton the story of 'the more fool you!' This decided him to act at once. He proposed; was accepted; and lived happily married for the rest of his long life. Lady Maria was small, fair-haired, and blue-eyed, which heightened her girlish appearance when, like Madame de Champlain, she came out to Canada with a husband more than old enough to be her father. But she had been brought up at Versailles. She knew all the aristocratic graces of the old regime. And her slight, upright figure—erect as any soldier's to her dying day—almost matched her husband's stalwart form in dignity of carriage.
The Quebec Act of 1774—the Magna Charta of the French-Canadian race—finally passed the House of Lords on the 18th of June. The general idea of the Act was to reverse the unsuccessful policy of ultimate assimilation with the other American colonies by making Canada a distinctly French-Canadian province. The Maritime Provinces, with a population of some thirty thousand, were to be as English as they chose. But a greatly enlarged Quebec, with a population of ninety thousand, and stretching far into the unsettled West, was to remain equally French-Canadian; though the rights of what it was then thought would be a perpetual English-speaking minority were to be safeguarded in every reasonable way. The whole country between the American colonies and the domains of the Hudson's Bay Company was included in this new Quebec, which comprised the southern half of what is now the Newfoundland Labrador, practically the whole of the modern provinces of Quebec and Ontario, and all the western lands between the Ohio and the Great Lakes as far as the Mississippi, that is, the modern American states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
The Act gave Canada the English criminal code. It recognized most of the French civil law, including the seigneurial tenure of land. Roman Catholics were given 'the free Exercise' of their religion, 'subject to the King's Supremacy' as defined 'by an Act made in the First Year of Queen Elizabeth,' which Act, with a magnificently prophetic outlook on the future British Empire, was to apply to 'all the Dominions and Countries which then did, or thereafter should, belong to the Imperial Crown.' The Roman Catholic clergy were authorized to collect 'their accustomed Dues and Rights' from members of their own communion. The new oath of allegiance to the Crown was silent about differences of religion, so that Roman Catholics might take it without question. The clergy and seigneurs were thus restored to an acknowledged leadership in church and state. Those who wanted a parliament were distinctly told that 'It is at present inexpedient to call an Assembly,' and that a Council of from seventeen to twenty-three members, all appointed by the Crown, would attend to local government and have power to levy taxes for roads and public buildings only. Lands held 'in free and common socage' were to be dealt with by the laws of England, as was all property which could be freely willed away. A possible establishment of the Church of England was provided for but never put in operation.
In some ways the Act did, in other ways it did not, fulfil the objects of its framers. It was undoubtedly a generous concession to the leading French Canadians. It did help to keep Canada both British and Canadian. And it did open the way for what ought to have been a crushing attack on the American revolutionary forces. But it was not, and neither it nor any other Act could possibly have been, at that late hour, completely successful. It conciliated the seigneurs and the parochial clergy. But it did not, and it could not, also conciliate the lesser townsfolk and the habitants. For the last fourteen years the habitants had been gradually drifting away from their former habits of obedience and former obligations towards their leaders in church and state. The leaders had lost their old followers. The followers had found no new leaders of their own.
Naturally enough, there was great satisfaction among the seigneurs and the clergy, with a general feeling among government supporters, both in England and Canada, that the best solution of a very refractory problem had been found at last. On the other hand, the Opposition in England, nearly every one in the American colonies, and the great majority of English-speaking people in Newfoundland, the Maritime Provinces, and Canada itself were dead against the Act; while the habitants, resenting the privileges already reaffirmed in favour of the seigneurs and clergy, and suspicious of further changes in the same unwelcome direction, were neutral at the best and hostile at the worst.
The American colonists would have been angered in any case. But when they saw Canada proper made as unlike a 'fourteenth colony' as could be, and when they also saw the gates of the coveted western lands closed against them by the same detested Act—the last of the 'five intolerable acts' to which they most objected—their fury knew no bounds. They cursed the king, the pope, and the French Canadians with as much violence as any temporal or spiritual rulers had ever cursed heretics and rebels. The 'infamous and tyrannical ministry' in England was accused of 'contemptible subservience' to the 'bloodthirsty, idolatrous, and hypocritical creed' of the French Canadians. To think that people whose religion had spread 'murder, persecution, and revolt throughout the world' were to be entrenched along the St Lawrence was bad enough. But to see Crown protection given to the Indian lands which the Americans considered their own western 'birthright' was infinitely worse. Was the king of England to steal the valley of the Mississippi in the same way as the king of France?
It is easy to be wise after the event and hard to follow any counsel of perfection. But it must always be a subject of keen, if unavailing, regret that the French Canadians were not guaranteed their own way of life, within the limits of the modern province of Quebec, immediately after the capitulation of Montreal in 1760. They would then have entered the British Empire, as a whole people, on terms which they must all have understood to be exceedingly generous from any conquering power, and which they would have soon found out to be far better than anything they had experienced under the government of France. In return for such unexampled generosity they might have become convinced defenders of the only flag in the world under which they could possibly live as French Canadians. Their relations to each other, to the rest of a changing Canada, and to the Empire would have followed the natural course of political evolution, with the burning questions of language, laws, and religion safely removed from general controversy in after years. The rights of the English-speaking minority could, of course, have been still better safeguarded under this system than under the distracting series of half-measures which took its place. There should have been no question of a parliament in the immediate future. Then, with the peopling of Ontario by the United Empire Loyalists and the growth of the Maritime Provinces on the other side, Quebec could have entered Carleton's proposed Confederation in the nineties to her own and every one else's best advantage.
On the other hand, the delay of fourteen years after the Capitulation of 1760 and the unwarrantable extension of the provincial boundaries were cardinal errors of the most disastrous kind. The delay, filled with a futile attempt at mistaken Americanization, bred doubts and dissensions not only between the two races but between the different kinds of French Canadians. When the hour of trial came disintegration had already gone too far. The mistake about the boundaries was equally bad. The western wilds ought to have been administered by a lieutenant-governor under the supervision of a governor-general. Even leasing them for a short term of years to the Hudson's Bay Company would have been better than annexing them to a preposterous province of Quebec. The American colonists would have doubtless objected to either alternative. But both could have been defended on sound principles of administration; while the sudden invasion of a new and inflated Quebec into the colonial hinterlands was little less than a declaration of war. The whole problem bristled with enormous difficulties, and the circumstances under which it had to be faced made an ideal solution impossible. But an earlier Quebec Act, without its outrageous boundary clause, would have been well worth the risk of passing; for the delay led many French Canadians to suppose, however falsely, that the Empire's need might always be their opportunity; and this idea, however repugnant to their best minds and better feelings, has persisted among their extreme particularists until the present day.
Carleton's first eight years as governor of Canada were almost entirely occupied with civil administration. The next four were equally occupied with war; so much so, indeed, that the Quebec Act could not be put in force on the 1st of May 1775, as provided for in the Act itself, but only bit by bit much later on. There was one short session of the new Legislative Council, which opened on the 17th of August. But all men's minds were even then turned towards the Montreal frontier, whence the American invasion threatened to overspread the whole country and make this opening session the last that might ever be held. Most of the members were soon called away from the council-chamber to the field. No further session could be held either that year or the next; and Carleton was obliged to nominate the judges himself. The fifteen years of peace were over, and Canada had once more become an object of contention between two fiercely hostile forces.
The War of the American Revolution was a long and exceedingly complicated struggle; and its many varied fortunes naturally had a profound effect on those of Canada. But Canada was directly engaged in no more than the first three campaigns, when the Americans invaded her in 1775 and '76, and when the British used her as the base from which to invade the new American Republic in 1777. These first three campaigns formed a purely civil war within the British Empire. On each side stood three parties. Opponents were ranged against each other in the mother country, in the Thirteen Colonies, and in Canada. In the mother country the king and his party government were ranged against the Opposition and all who held radical or revolutionary views. Here the strife was merely political. But in the Thirteen Colonies the forces of the Crown were ranged against the forces of the new Continental Congress. The small minority of colonists who were afterwards known as the United Empire Loyalists sided with the Crown. A majority sided with the Congress. The rest kept as selfishly neutral as they could. Among the English-speaking civilians in Canada, many of whom were now of a much better class than the original camp-followers, the active loyalists comprised only the smaller half. The larger half sided with the Americans, as was only natural, seeing that most of them were immigrants from the Thirteen Colonies. But by no means all these sympathizers were ready for a fight. Among the French Canadians the loyalists included very few besides the seigneurs, the clergy, and a handful of educated people in Montreal, Three Rivers, and Quebec. The mass of the habitants were more or less neutral. But many of them were anti-British at first, while most of them were anti-American afterwards.
Events moved quickly in 1775. On the 19th of April the 'shot heard round the world' was fired at Lexington in Massachusetts. On the 1st of May, the day appointed for the inauguration of the Quebec Act, the statue of the king in Montreal was grossly defaced and hung with a cross, a necklace of potatoes, and a placard bearing the inscription, Here's the Canadian Pope and English Fool—Voila le Pape du Canada et le sot Anglais. Large rewards were offered for the detection of the culprits; but without avail. Excitement ran high and many an argument ended with a bloody nose.
Meanwhile three Americans were plotting an attack along the old line of Lake Champlain. Two of them were outlaws from the colony of New York, which was then disputing with the neighbouring colony of New Hampshire the possession of the lawless region in which all three had taken refuge and which afterwards became Vermont. Ethan Allen, the gigantic leader of the wild Green Mountain Boys, had a price on his head. Seth Warner, his assistant, was an outlaw of a somewhat humbler kind. Benedict Arnold, the third invader, came from Connecticut. He was a horse-dealer carrying on business with Quebec and Montreal as well as the West Indies. He was just thirty-four; an excellent rider, a dead shot, a very fair sailor, and captain of a crack militia company. Immediately after the affair at Lexington he had turned out his company, reinforced by undergraduates from Yale, had seized the New Haven powder magazine and marched over to Cambridge, where the Massachusetts Committeemen took such a fancy to him that they made him a colonel on the spot, with full authority to raise men for an immediate attack on Ticonderoga. The opportunity seemed too good to be lost; though the Continental Congress was not then in favour of attacking Canada, as its members hoped to see the Canadians throw off the yoke of empire on their own account. The British posts on Lake Champlain were absurdly undermanned. Ticonderoga contained two hundred cannon, but only forty men, none of whom expected an attack. Crown Point had only a sergeant and a dozen men to watch its hundred and thirteen pieces. Fort George, at the head of Lake George, was no better off; and nothing more had been done to man the fortifications at St Johns on the Richelieu, where there was an excellent sloop as well as many cannon in charge of the usual sergeant's guard. This want of preparation was no fault of Carleton's. He had frequently reported home on the need of more men. Now he had less than a thousand regulars to defend the whole country: and not another man was to arrive till the spring of next year. When Gage was hard pressed for reinforcements at Boston in the autumn of 1774 Carleton had immediately sent him two excellent battalions that could ill be spared from Canada. But when Carleton himself made a similar request, in the autumn of 1775, Admiral Graves, to his lasting dishonour, refused to sail up to Quebec so late as October.
The first moves of the three Americans smacked strongly of a well-staged extravaganza in which the smart Yankees never failed to score off the dunderheaded British. The Green Mountain Boys assembled on the east side of the lake. Spies walked in and out of Ticonderoga, exactly opposite, and reported to Ethan Allen that the commandant and his whole garrison of forty unsuspecting men would make an easy prey. Allen then sent eighty men down to Skenesborough (now Whitehall) at the southern end of the lake, to take the tiny post there and bring back boats for the crossing on the 10th of May. Then Arnold turned up with his colonel's commission, but without the four hundred men it authorized him to raise. Allen, however, had made himself a colonel too, with Warner as his second-in-command. So there were no less than three colonels for two hundred and thirty men. Arnold claimed the command by virtue of his Massachusetts commission. But the Green Mountain Boys declared they would follow no colonels but their own; and so Arnold, after being threatened with arrest, was appointed something like chief of the staff, on the understanding that he would make himself generally useful with the boats. This appointment was made at dawn on the 10th of May, just as the first eighty men were advancing to the attack after crossing over under cover of night. The British sentry's musket missed fire; whereupon he and the guard were rushed, while the rest of the garrison were surprised in their beds. Ethan Allen, who knew the fort thoroughly, hammered on the commandant's door and summoned him to surrender 'In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!' The astonished commandant, seeing that resistance was impossible, put on his dressing-gown and paraded his disarmed garrison as prisoners of war. Seth Warner presently arrived with the rest of Allen's men and soon became the hero of Crown Point, which he took with the whole of its thirteen men and a hundred and thirteen cannon. Then Arnold had his own turn, in command of an expedition against the sergeant's guard, cannon, stores, fort, and sloop at St Johns on the Richelieu, all of which he captured in the same absurdly simple way. When he came sailing back the three victorious commanders paraded all their men and fired off many straggling fusillades of joy. In the meantime the Continental Congress at Philadelphia, with a delightful touch of unconscious humour, was gravely debating the following resolution, which was passed on the 1st of June: That no Expedition or Incursion ought to be undertaken or made, by any Colony or body of Colonists, against or into Canada.
The same Congress, however, found reasons enough for changing its mind before the month of May was out. The British forces in Canada had already begun to move towards the threatened frontier. They had occupied and strengthened St Johns. And the Americans were beginning to fear lest the command of Lake Champlain might again fall into British hands. On the 27th of May the Congress closed the phase of individual raids and inaugurated the phase of regular invasion by commissioning General Schuyler to 'pursue any measures in Canada that may have a tendency to promote the peace and security of these Colonies.' Philip Schuyler was a distinguished member of the family whose head had formulated the 'Glorious Enterprize' of conquering New France in 1689. [Footnote: See, in this Series, The Fighting Governor.] So it was quite in line with the family tradition for him to be under orders to 'take possession of St Johns, Montreal, and any other parts of the country,' provided always, adds the cautious Congress, that 'General Schuyler finds it practicable, and that it will not be disagreeable to the Canadians.'
A few days later Arnold was trying to get a colonelcy from the Convention of New York, whose members just then happened to be thinking of giving commissions to his rivals, the leaders of the Green Mountain Boys, while, to make the complication quite complete, these Boys themselves had every intention of electing officers on their own account. In the meantime Connecticut, determined not to be forestalled by either friend or foe, ordered a thousand men to Ticonderoga and commissioned a general called Wooster to command them. Thus early were sown the seeds of those dissensions between Congress troops and Colony troops which nearly drove Washington mad.
Schuyler reached Ticonderoga in mid-July and assumed his position as Congressional commander-in-chief. Unfortunately for the good of the service he had only a few hundred men with him; so Wooster, who had a thousand, thought himself the bigger general of the two. The Connecticut men followed Wooster's lead by jeering at Schuyler's men from New York; while the Vermonters added to the confusion by electing Seth Warner instead of Ethan Allen. In mid-August a second Congressional general arrived, making three generals and half a dozen colonels for less than fifteen hundred troops. This third general was Richard Montgomery, an ardent rebel of thirty-eight, who had been a captain in the British Army. He had sold his commission, bought an estate on the Hudson, and married a daughter of the Livingstons. The Livingstons headed the Anglo-American revolutionists in the colony of New York as the Schuylers headed the Knickerbocker Dutch. One of them was very active on the rebel side in Montreal and was soon to take the field at the head of the American 'patriots' in Canada. Montgomery was brother to the Captain Montgomery of the 43rd who was the only British officer to disgrace himself during Wolfe's Quebec campaign, which he did by murdering his French-Canadian prisoners at Chateau Richer because they had fought disguised as Indians. [Footnote: See The Passing of New France, p. 118.] Richard Montgomery was a much better man than his savage brother; though, as the sequel proves, he was by no means the perfect hero his American admirers would have the world believe. His great value at Ticonderoga was his professional knowledge and his ardour in the cause he had espoused. His presence 'changed the spirit of the camp.' It sadly needed change. 'Such a set of pusillanimous wretches never were collected' is his own description in a despairing letter to his wife. The 'army,' in fact, was all parts and no whole, and all the parts were mere untrained militia. Moreover, the spirit of the 'town meeting' ruled the camp. Even a battery could not be moved without consulting a council of war. Schuyler, though far more phlegmatic than Montgomery, agreed with him heartily about this and many other exasperating points. 'If Job had been a general in my situation, his memory had not been so famous for patience.'
Worn out by his worries, Schuyler fell ill and was sent to command the base at Albany. Montgomery then succeeded to the command of the force destined for the front. The plan of invasion approved by Washington was, first, to sweep the line of the Richelieu by taking St Johns and Chambly, then to take Montreal, next to secure the line of the St Lawrence, and finally to besiege Quebec. Montgomery's forces were to carry out all the preliminary parts alone. But Arnold was to join him at Quebec after advancing across country from the Kennebec to the Chaudiere with a flying column of Virginians and New Englanders.
Carleton opened the melancholy little session of the new Legislative Council at Quebec on the very day Montgomery arrived at Ticonderoga—the 17th of August. When he closed it, to take up the defence of Canada, the prospect was already black enough, though it grew blacker still as time went on. Immediately on hearing the news of Ticonderoga, Crown Point, and St Johns at the end of May he had sent every available man from Quebec to Montreal, whence Colonel Templer had already sent off a hundred and forty men to St Johns, while calling for volunteers to follow. The seigneurial class came forward at once. But all attempts to turn out the militia en masse_ proved utterly futile. Fourteen years of kindly British rule had loosened the old French bonds of government and the habitants were no longer united as part of one people with the seigneurs and the clergy. The rebels had been busy spreading insidious perversions of the belated Quebec Act, poisoning the minds of the habitants against the British government, and filling their imaginations with all sorts of terrifying doubts. The habitants were ignorant, credulous, and suspicious to the last degree. The most absurd stories obtained ready credence and ran like wildfire through the province. Seven thousand Russians were said to be coming up the St Lawrence—whether as friends or foes mattered nothing compared with the awful fact that they were all outlandish bogeys. Carleton was said to have a plan for burning alive every habitant he could lay his hands on. Montgomery's thousand were said to be five thousand, with many more to follow. And later on, when Arnold's men came up the Kennebec, it was satisfactorily explained to most of the habitants that it was no good resisting dead-shot riflemen who were bullet-proof themselves. Carleton issued proclamations. The seigneurs waved their swords. The clergy thundered from their pulpits. But all in vain. Two months after the American exploits on Lake Champlain Carleton gave a guinea to the sentry mounted in his honour by the local militia colonel, M. de Tonnancour, because this man was the first genuine habitant he had yet seen armed in the whole district of Three Rivers. What must Carleton have felt when the home government authorized him to raise six thousand of His Majesty's loyal French-Canadian subjects for immediate service and informed him that the arms and equipment for the first three thousand were already on the way to Canada! Seven years earlier it might still have been possible to raise French-Canadian counterparts of those Highland regiments which Wolfe had recommended and Pitt had so cordially approved. Carleton himself had recommended this excellent scheme at the proper time. But, though the home government even then agreed with him, they thought such a measure would raise more parliamentary and public clamour than they could safely face. The chance once lost was lost for ever.
Carleton had done what he could to keep the enemy at arm's length from Montreal by putting every available man into Chambly and St Johns. He knew nothing of Arnold's force till it actually reached Quebec in November. Quebec was thought secure for the time being, and so was left with a handful of men under Cramahe. Montreal had a few regulars and a hundred 'Royal Emigrants,' mostly old Highlanders who had settled along the New York frontier after the Conquest. For the rest, it had many American and a few British sympathizers ready to fly at each others' throats and a good many neutrals ready to curry favour with the winners. Sorel was a mere post without any effective garrison. Chambly was held by only eighty men under Major Stopford. But its strong stone fort was well armed and quite proof against anything except siege artillery; while its little garrison consisted of good regulars who were well provisioned for a siege. The mass of Carleton's little force was at St Johns under Major Preston, who had 500 men of the 7th and 26th (Royal Fusiliers and Cameronians), 80 gunners, and 120 volunteers, mostly French-Canadian gentlemen. Preston was an excellent officer, and his seven hundred men were able to give a very good account of themselves as soldiers. But the fort was not nearly so strong as the one at Chambly; it had no natural advantages of position; and it was short of both stores and provisions.
The three successive steps for Montgomery to take were St Johns, Chambly, and Montreal. But the natural order of events was completely upset by that headstrong Yankee, Ethan Allen, who would have his private war at Montreal, and by that contemptible British officer, Major Stopford, who would not defend Chambly. Montgomery laid siege to St Johns on the 18th of September, but made no substantial progress for more than a month. He probably had no use for Allen at anything like a regular siege. So Allen and a Major Brown went on to 'preach politicks' and concert a rising with men like Livingston and Walker. Livingston, as we have seen already, belonged to a leading New York family which was very active in the rebel cause; and Livingston, Walker, Allen, and Brown would have made a dangerous anti-British combination if they could only have worked together. But they could not. Livingston hurried off to join Montgomery with four hundred 'patriots' who served their cause fairly well till the invasion was over. Walker had no military qualities whatever. So Allen and Brown were left to their own disunited devices. Montreal seemed an easy prey. It had plenty of rebel sympathizers. Nearly all the surrounding habitants were either neutrals or inclined to side with the Americans, though not as fighting men. Carleton's order to bring in all the ladders, so as to prevent an escalade of the walls, had met with general opposition and evasion. Nothing seemed wanting but a good working plan.
Brown, or possibly Allen himself, then hit upon the idea of treating Montreal very much as Allen had treated Ticonderoga. In any case Allen jumped at it. He jumped so far, indeed, that he forestalled Brown, who failed to appear at the critical moment. Thus, on the 24th of September, Allen found himself alone at Long Point with a hundred and twenty men in face of three times as many under the redoubtable Major Carden, a skilled veteran who had won Wolfe's admiration years before. Carden's force included thirty regulars, two hundred and forty militiamen, and some Indians, probably not over a hundred strong. The militia were mostly of the seigneurial class with a following of habitants and townsmen of both French and British blood. Carden broke Allen's flanks rounded up his centre, and won the little action easily, though at the expense of his own most useful life. Allen was very indignant at being handcuffed and marched off like a common prisoner after having made himself a colonel twice over. But Carleton had no respect for self-commissioned officers and had no soldiers to spare for guarding dangerous rebels. So he shipped Allen off to England, where that eccentric warrior was confined in Pendennis Castle near Falmouth in Cornwall.
This affair, small as it was, revived British hopes in Montreal and induced a few more militiamen and Indians to come forward. But within a month more was lost at Chambly than had been gained at Montreal. On the 18th of October a small American detachment attacked Chambly with two little field-guns and induced it to surrender on the 20th. If ever an officer deserved to be shot it was Major Stopford, who tamely surrendered his well-armed and well-provided fort to an insignificant force, after a flimsy resistance of only thirty-six hours, without even taking the trouble to throw his stores into the river that flowed beside his strong stone walls. The news of this disgraceful surrender, diligently spread by rebel sympathizers, frightened the Indians away from St Johns, thus depriving Major Preston, the commandant, of his best couriers at the very worst time. But the evil did not stop there; for nearly all the few French-Canadian militiamen whom the more distant seigneurs had been able to get under arms deserted en masse, with many threats against any one who should try to turn them out again.
Chambly is only a short day's march from Montreal to the west and St Johns to the south; so its capture meant that St Johns was entirely cut off from the Richelieu to the north and dangerously exposed to being cut off from Montreal as well. Its ample stores and munitions of war were a priceless boon to Montgomery, who now redoubled his efforts to take St Johns. But Preston held out bravely for the remainder of the month, while Carleton did his best to help him. A fortnight earlier Carleton had arrested that firebrand, Walker, who had previously refused to leave the country, though Carleton had given him the chance of doing so. Mrs Walker, as much a rebel as her husband, interviewed Carleton and noted in her diary that he 'said many severe Things in very soft & Polite Termes.' Carleton was firm. Walker's actions, words, and correspondence all proved him a dangerous rebel whom no governor could possibly leave at large without breaking his oath of office. Walker, who had himself caused so many outrageous arrests, now not only resisted the legal arrest of his own person, but fired on the little party of soldiers who had been sent to bring him into Montreal. The soldiers then began to burn him out; whereupon he carried his wife to a window from which the soldiers rescued her. He then surrendered and was brought into Montreal, where the sight of him as a prisoner made a considerable impression on the waverers.