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tyranny;--in these times it was indeed fitting to declare that the bond of natural allegiance could not be shaken off; that, if born in Turkey, we must worship Mahomet; that, if born in Hindoostan, we must fall down before Jaugernout; that church and state were indissoluble ; and that natural allegiance must give eternal sanction and support to superstition and tyranny. O! to be sure, these were all choice and necessary maxims for the days of darkness: these, indeed, were the maxims of antiquity, which Edmund Burke, thirty years ago, wished us to adopt, and to entail on posterity. Thank God, that, after thirty years have passed away, we can laugh at the frenzy of Burke, give full swing to speculative opinion, and stand up as staunch and determined supporters of abstract right. Nay, we are entitled to look back with contempt on the man who could commit to paper such a sentiment as this—“ The very idea of the fabrication of a new government is enough to fill us with disgust and horror*.” Such a sentiment as this, especially considered as proceeding from a man who cheered the Ameriean rebellion, provokes us to stand by the preacher, and assert, in mere opposition to the pensioned statesman, that we have a right
“ 1st. To choose our own governors.
* See Burke's Reflections on the French Revolution, where
Most assuredly, these are abstract rights of the people—not the people of Britain only, but of every country under heaven. These are not only our abstract rights, but rights which we have exercised. These were the rights exercised by the Convention Parliament of 1688. That Parliament, most assuredly, framed a government, cashiered James, and chose William for our go
It is true that the Convention Parliament was not formally appointed by the people ; but it was so, tacitly; and, in the people's name, did it act. The Convention Parliament consisted, perhaps, of presuming coxcombs--the Big-bugs of their day ; but, let it never be forgotten, that these Big-bugs laid the first solid foundation for popular rights, and rational liberty.--So, blessed, for ever, be the memory of the Big-bugs.
A declaration of principles not only gives strength and freedom to the mind, but frankness and liberality. When we have got all we are entitled to, then we think of concessions and compromises; then the heart warms and unfolds. It is not true that Government has caused all the misery observable in the world. The vices inherent in man—the vices of individuals, first made government necessary, and gave advantage to power. Power, established, soon became vicious, from the inherent wickedness of those who swayed it, and gave birth to tyranny. Individuals, then
he utters the sentiment above quoted, and attacks Dr. Price for having maintained these three positions.
oppressed by tyranny, became more vicious and weak. The offspring of vice, tyranny, now became a necessary scourge for the vices of individuals, and the vices of individuals were continually, without avail, brooding over the destruction of the scourge. Thus, we can trace effects from causes: we can determine that vice cannot subdue itself; and that our only hope to get clear of misery is rigidly to adhere to virtue—to wisdom, whose “ways are pleasantness, and all whose paths are peace.”
The grand essential for the improvement of man and government is freedom of opinion, which blue-laws would put down; but which, thank God, has now, from the aid of the printing-press, got beyond controul-got fairly a-head of superstition and tyranny; at least in the United States of America ; and, with discretion, even here, in London.
A case can scarcely be supposed to exist which required, nay demanded freedom of opinion, more urgently than that which induced me to put it to use by the publication of my second Address to the Resident Landowners of Upper Canada. Orders had come from home to check the ingress of Americans into that province, clearly without knowledge or regard of statute law, and still more so, of other circumstances. The Provincial Executive had acted upon these orders, under the countenance of the legislature ; and nothing but sore experience and a vast depreciation in the value of property, had awakened feeling to any consideration on the subject. Feeling, not judgment, had determined that errors had been committed; and it was important that judgment should be roused up and brought into action. But even feeling had not yet fully discovered the most dangerous seat of disease. Neither the home nor provincial Government seems to have ever thought of a most vital matter connected with the settlement of Upper Canada, whether with British subjects or others. Experience had proved that the bond of natural allegiance could not give the British Government a hold over natives of Britain, who had become citizens of America, or, which is the same thing, the British Government could not keep that hold; and, as for the inhabitants of Upper Canada, the greater part of them were bound to be true and faithful to his Majesty, only by the bond of local allegiance, which bond, according to law, they could throw off as soon
as they crossed the boundary between Canada and the United States. According to law, these people could change their allegiance seven times a week One day, they could pass over to the Americans, and, swearing allegiance to their Government, return into Canada, to fight against the King : then, next day, they could swear allegiance to the King and bear arms against America ; and, so, alternately, without ever subjecting themselves to legal prosecution for treason and rebellion. Nay, even native-born British subjects, after they saw that the grand declaration of our Ministry, as to the principle and bond of natural allegiance, was dropt, or could not be enforced, might have been tempted into tricks of the same description ; and, Willcocks was one, at least, who actually did go over to the Americans, very likely under an impression that he had an unquestionable right to do so. This frightful state of things, as it concerned the question of allegiance and others of the highest importance, which I clearly saw into, and which could only be settled by the British Parliament, stimulated me to be bold and determined in the measures I took, in writing my second Address to the Resident Land-owners of Upper Canada, and in urging an immediate inquiry to be made, with a view of submitting the wholestate of the province to liberal and superior consideration-to the British Parliament, which alone could settle matters of such tremendous consequence; not only regarding the properties but lives and liberties of many thousands of people; we may say, the whole inhabitants of the province. My address produced effect; but by no means, the full effect which I desired. It served the purpose of Mr. Wm. Dickson, indeed; but to this day, I am convinced that even he remains blind to the question of allegiance, as I have now represented it; and which I am most anxious should be taken into the serious consideration of my readers in this country, better qualified to judge than the weaklings of a province. The conduct of Dickson and Claus, Legislative Councillors of Upper Canada, in arresting and imprisoning me, a native-born Briton, under colour of the alien sedition law, as well