[ocr errors]

His Majestie hath been pleased to send by me a gracious letter to the Presbytrie of Edinburgh to be communicated to all the Presbytries in Scotland, which I am confident will satisfie all who are satisfiable; it will be printed, and within a day or two, a copie transmitted to yow. However the affaires of the Church of England may be disposed, which I see are tending to Episcopacie there, the blame whereof ought not to be laid upon the King, yet we need fear no violation of our settlement here, if the Lord give us to prize our own mercie, and know our dutie. I have brought a letter from some citie ministers, bearing an account of their late procedure to an accommodation, for moderated Epicopacie, and the Church contests there are swallowed up by these who are for Prelacie in the former way, and these who are for a regulated Episcopacie. The King, by his declaration, which will be speedilie published, will endeavour a composeing of these differences until a Synod be called. Your noble friend (Lord Lauderdale) who hath sent yow the inclosed, (however he is represented by some with yow) is a fixed friend to the interests of the Church of Scotland, and to that cause we have owned : we have cause to blesse God that he is putt into such a station by his Majestie, wherein he is capacitated to doe good offices to our Church, and honest men in it, for which I am persuaded he will lay himself forth to the utmost."

We conclude our notice of the collection before us, which is deserving of reiterated perusal, with a curious anecdote.

My Lord Belhaven, without any example I ever heard of in Scotland, with his Ladie, a very wittie woman's advyce, did fayne death, and for seven yeares was taken by all for dead, yet now appear againe safe and sound in his own house. He was much ingadged for Duke Hamilton : fearing the creditors might fall on his person and estate, and knowing if he were reputed dead, his wife by conjunct-fie and otherwayes, would keep his estate, he went, with his brother and two servants, towards England. These returned, affirming, that in Solway Sands my Lord was carried down by the river, and they could not rescue him. His horse and his hatt they got, but when all search was made his body could not be found. His Ladie and friends made great dool for him, and none controverts his death. In the meantime he goes beyond London and farmes a piece of ground, and lives very privatelie there.

[ocr errors]

Art. XIV.-Memoir of the Life of the Right Honourable Charles

Lord Sydenham, G.C.B. With a Narrative of his Administration in Canada. Edited by his Brother G. Poulett SCROPE,

Esq., M.P. Murray. On his death-bed Lord Sydenham expressed a wish that Mr. Murdoch his Civil Secretary, should write an account of his Canadian Administration. This accordingly has been done, Mr. Scrope enriching the volume with a suitable Memoir of his brother's entire life, illustrating also Mr. Murdoch's narrative with numerous extracts from his lordship's private correspondence. The public will welcome

and relish the book; for while there is much of a practical and sensible sort in the career of the deceased nobleman, ihe offices of narrator and biographer have been performed with ability, modesty, and proper affection. We have discovered nothing like straining in the volume; and indeed nothing could have been worse timed or more foreign to the character of its distinguished subject, than exaggeration or pompous pretension of any kind.

Poulett Thomson was the younger son of an eminent London merchant, and was at an early age initiated in his father's business. Howeyer, before he settled in the metropolis, to steadily pursue a mercantile career, he travelled rather extensively on the continent, during which period he seems to have assiduously cultivated a knowledge of political affairs, besides improving his commercial views. One thing is certain, that he imbibed and fortified liberal sentiments with regard to finance and national relation, and that he ever after remained consistent with his first professed principles. He formed an intimacy with Bentham and other persons of a similar political creed, and at length, although contrary to the wish of his father and other members of the family, he became a candidate for Dover, was successful in the contest, and joined the Opposition in Parliament. Indeed, he soon gave proofs of a very decided liberalism, dividing on more occasions than one against large majorities; Vote by Ballot being a question on which he at an early period recorded a decided opinion, and to which he continued to adhere.

Mr. Thomson was never a very shining personage, taken in a public sense. In debate or as an orator he made no great figure, and as a statesman was by no means dazzling. But his appear to have been the sound, sober, and sterling qualities for practical performance, which the more he was known were the more respected, and which at length made such an impression upon Lord John Russell, when Colonial Secretary, that the appointment to the government of Canada was the result, in spite of the multitudes who endeavoured to ridicule the choice, and took upon themselves not only to predict that the saddest failure would attend Mr. Thomson's administration, but did all in their power to dishearten and embarass him. The duties to be performed were surrounded with difficulties; for in Canada as well as at home, the new governor had the most reluctant and distracted feelings to contend with. However, it is now matter of history that the issue redounded to his honour, and that the voice of his most stern opponents was silenced.

Poulett Thomson had on various important occasions, before going out to Canada, done good service to the state. He was the firm supporter of Huskisson in behalf of free trade. As Treasurer of the Navy and Vice-President of the Board of Trade, on the formation of Earl Grey's ministry, it is known that he was an active and efficient servant, and t!::.much reliance was reposed in his advice.

His return as the first representative in parliament for Manchester sufficiently attests the nature of the confidence placed in his judg. ment and exertions for the benefit of the great manufacturing and trading interests of the country. His appointment to the Presidency of the Board of Trade in the Melbourne administration, and a seat in the Cabinet, gave him higher opportunities of exercising influence in the councils of the nation; and he actually stood alone among his colleagues in a vote on the Corn Laws. Last of all he proceeded to Canada, the offer being left to him either to choose the Chancellorship of the Exchequer, or the government on the other side of the Atlantic, Spring Rice having at the period been called to the Upper House.

On his choice of the government of Canada, an entry in his private journal throws light. The passage is so characteristic of bis plain and practical sense that it deserves to be quoted even on that account. He thus speaks:

I have a better chance of settling things in Canada than any one they could have found to go; and if I had not taken it then, as I could not well have got out of the government, I should have shared in the disgrace next session. It is a great field, too, if I bring about the union, and stay for a year to meet the United Assembly, and set them to work. On the other hand, in England there is little to be done by me. At the Exchequer all that can be hoped is to get through some BAD tax. There is no chance of carrying the House with one for any great commercial reforms, timber, corn, sugar, &c.; party and private interests will prevent it. If Peel were in, he might do this, as he could muzzle or keep away his Tory allies, and we should support him. If he got in and had courage, what a field for him ; But he has not.

There is something better and more solid than modesty in his judgment upon himself with regard to what he might merely have been able to accomplish had he remained at home and taken the other office: there is manly and sober self-appreciation,-a principle and habit of estimating his own powers, which, we may rest assured, would have preserved his firmness when once he took his stand, as stoutly as it would have prevented him from stepping beyond his proper depth in statesmanship or political speculation. It must have been these sound and sagacious qualities that obtained for him from those who enjoyed the best means of measuring his capacity and worth, that consideration and advancement in the state which distinguished his career. And we say that he was perfectly aware of the precise character of his own merits, and how he could stand a comparison with others. Listen to him adducing the case of Sir James Macintosh, whose life he had been reading :

He was more fitted to embellish society at Holland House, when there was time for literary and philosophical discussion, than for the duties of an active statesman in threse later days, or even for the conversation of those

who now form society in the political circles in which I move, and which he then moved in. It is strange though that I, who never had half his recommendations to the Whig aristocracy, and not a tithe of his talent, nor a hundredth part of his information, should have been in office with him as his superior, and for five years a Cabinet Minister. I believe that the cause of this is to be found in the dependence of the one and the independence of the other. The knowledge that I wanted not office for the sake of money, nor patronage to procure me a seat, has done for me that which his superior talents and knowledge, wanting both, could not do.

He speaks of his independence. Now this virtue, together with the conviction that was gradually produced upon the public mind both at home and in Canada, that it really belonged to him, enabled him to carry out the measures which he deliberately planned, with steadiness and straightforwardness. He saw that the great mistake of the Governors who preceded him, was, that each "threw himself into the hands of one party or the other, and became their slave." But, he adds, “I have let them know and feel taat I will yield to neither of them,--that I will take the moderate from both sides, reject the extremes,—and govern as I think right, and not as they fancy."

His government, however, was not without great personal toil and prolonged anxiety. He looked into everthing with his own eyes, and had often to discipline his own mind to enable him to bear up amid difficulties and opposition.

When I find myself getting gloomy at the opposition of little petty interests to great improvements, and by the difficulty of making people understand what is really for the general benefit, I turn back to my own recollection of what was the condition of the House of Commons not many years ago, with reference to all the great improvements which we have either carried or raised to a position in which they must be soon carried ; such as Parliamentary Representation, the Poor Laws, Municipal Reform, County Administration, the Tithe Question, both in Ireland and England, Slavery, Free Trade, &c., and I become very merciful towards these poor

Colonists. So advance steadily, and depend upon it you will succeed in your objects ultimately

We shall now throw together a few miscellaneous passages, gathered from the volume, partly for the sake of illustrating the character of Lord Sydenham, and partly to indicate the manner and principles of his conduct as Governor. These specimens will carry evidence and influence with them that must raise a wish in every one of our readers to have a leisurely opportunity for going through the entire book.

It is not unamusing to hear how the new Governor carried himself and felt on his first stately essays. He is somewhat humorous on the subject. “The worst part of the thing to me, individually, is the ceremonial,” he says.

« The bore of this is unspeakable. Fancy

having to stand for an hour and a half, bowing, and then to sit with one's cocked hat on to receive addresses. Poor royalty! I learn to feel for it. Then the misery of always being on parade! When I get over the first blush, however, I hope to remedy this a little."

After a period of great anxiety and labour, Lord Sydenham had the proud satisfaction of finding that he could carry the Union of the two provinces. This accomplished he made a progress through them both, and was gratified in the highest degree by the reception that awaited him:

All parties uniting in addresses at every place, full of confidence in my government, and of a determination to forget their former disputes. Escorts of two and three hundred farmers on horseback at every place from township to township, with all the etceteras of guns, music, and flags, What is of more importance, my candidates everywhere taken for the eusuing elections ; in short, such unanimity and confidence I never saw, and it augurs well for the future. Even the Toronto people, who have been spending the last six weeks in squabbling, were led, I suppose by the feeling shown in the rest of the province, into giving me a splendid reception, and took in good part a lecture I read them, telling them that they had better follow the good example of peace and renewed harmony which had been set them elsewhere, instead of making a piece of work about what they did not understand.

Legislation, too, went onapace with him and his parliament, which was a subject of his exultation, although damped by the consideration that his measures and success would obtain but slight consideration in England :

What do you think of this, you miserable people in England, who spend two years upon a single measure ?

The worst of it is that I am afraid I shall never be good for quiet purposes hereafter; for I actually breathe, eat, drink, and sleep on nothing but government and politics, and my day is a lost one when I do not find that I have advanced some of these objects materially. That, in fact, is the secret of my success. The people know that I am ready at all hours and times to do business, and that what I have once undertaken I will carry through ; so they follow my star.

However, this will avail me nothing in England. No one there knows the difference between an active and a supine administration of affairs in a colony; and for all the credit to be got, except perhaps from Lord John, it will be as if I had never done anything. So, though I write to you in high spirits, and recount my hauts faits, you need not think that I shall come back bragging of them, or expect to find that they have rendered me half so marquant a person as a good speech in the House of Commons or a successful breakfast at Greenwich would have done.

He continued to feel a deep concern with regard to the prospects and the measures of his party at home. The Whig budget of 1841

« VorigeDoorgaan »