2 MAY 1840, Page 15


THE basis of this volume was a series of articles originally pub- lished in the Colonial Gazelle. The attention which the papers excited in the British North American Colonies—the passing interest of " Responsible Government," and its general im- portance if' our settlements are to be long retained with profit and eventually parted with in peace—have induced the author to revise his articles and add to them some introductory and conclud- ing observations.

.And, apart from the importance of their subject, their own

merits entitle them to a more fixed form than the ephemeral columns of' a newspaper. The author is evidently a man who has had experience in the practical working of (7olonial affairs, and who has given considerable attention to the principles by which they should be guided. He has moreover an acquaintance with political philosophy, which enables him to treat his subject in a more comprehensive manner than is usually met with in Colonial discussions, but without ever losing sight of Colonial purposes. These substantial qualities are set off by corresponding literary skill,—a natural arrangement ; a rejection of all but the essential parts; great clearness of statement ; a close aml spirited style ; in the expositional or argumentative portions a vigorous compression, in the more illustrative an expansion full of images, together with a subdued facetiousness or occasional pathos which enlivens a sub- ject that scarcely seemed to admit of such animation.

The object of the writer is to advocate the doctrine advanced in

Lord DunnAm's celebrated Report—that where a representative us- sembly is given to a colony, the executive gorernment should be carried on in harmony with its wishes; or in other words, after you have given colonists the legal power of refusing the supplies, stopping all legisla- tion, and throwing the whole of the public business into a state of confusion, you should not attempt to carry on an internal government opposed to the desires of the colonists, by men distastelld to their feelings, and thus stimulate them to exercise their per to pro- duce mischief. In furtherance of his object, the writer first con- siders what Responsible Government, applied to it colony, really ineans ; he then combats the objections to it ; he next reasons upon its probable workings ; and lastly describes the actual working of the present system in the Colonies and at the Colonial Office. It. wanted not the last week's arrivals from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to give additional force to this picture of the


A large portion of these communities are ruled in the silenve and obscurity of an essentially arbitrary form of government ; and their policy is determined, without reference to public opinion, in the secret delibcrutions either of the Colonial (Mice at home, or of close councils in the Colonies composed of the nominees of the Governor. Yet even in these colonies tl:c discussions carried on through the press reveal to its the existence of colls:ant dissatisfaction at the poliey of the Government: and the intense excitement mcasioned by grievances of more than usual magnitude, every now :ma ilem gives rise to motions in Parliament, that infbrin us of' little but the t;:et that dissatisfacfion exists. But where apparently the freest institutions have been accorded to a colony, the content and harmony which are the usual r..sults of freedom are still less to be found : the representative bodies away to he only more efficient organs of at least equal discontent, and the popular voice is heard in one wearisome monotony of complaint. Theirs at Into- is no tranquil and patient suffering; and when they find remonstrance and imparlatient unavailing, they compel the attention and interposition of Parliament by stopping the supplies, and obstructing the whole course ef ;,overoment anti legislation.

If we consider the origin of the Celonial government in all our settlements except South Australia, the result described in the ihregoing passage will not appear surprising. Whether our Colonies have been acquired by ctuulucst or formedmehnyt settlement, one principle obtains throughout—the govern is absent from the governed. Worse, in the m'nse of more despotic and more tyrannical rule than that of the modem Colonial Office, may be found easily enough, but never worse it' teprd be had to the subjects of that ride. The most arbitrery sc,vereign, it' a man a ambit ion, fuels the same sort of pride in his dominions and his people, as it person may be supposed to feel in the wellbeing of his cattle and (state ; a fool has the terror, or at all events is shortly made to feel the effects, of such coercien as is shown by the dagger or the tight-drawn sash ; and both fool and man of sense are un- consciously restrained by the effects of educathm, of' manners, and the habits or their daily life ; so that if they tyrannize, they tyran- nize according to the custom of the country, timid can always hold their hand. The Colonial Office, on the contrary, hums none Of these restraints. It has none of' the sympathy with its subjects which springs from early acquaintance or hai,itual mmemocimt lion ; it legislates upon minute and complicated matters without knowledge of their coineidents, or what is of more importance, of the feelings of the little public which is to be affected by its influence ; and it is shielded front that responsibility to c pinion which att:•ches even to the Emperor of' Morocco, by distance, the obscutity of the colonial community, the rapid succession of Colonial Secre- taries, and the mystery—the " no-man " of Ulysses—in which

the real governor of' our Colonies is shrouded. It has this further peculiarity distinguishing it from all other authority-- though delegated it is non-resident ; and it tyrannizes for the most part over Englishmen, whose education and habits of life have taught them to resist oppression as a duty, and to demand at least the outward semblance of self government as a right.

To give this self-government, is what is menet by "Responsible Government for the Colonies " : but as a colonial state implies a subordinate state, it is not only proper to a philosophical considera- tion of the subject distinctly to mark the limits of colonial power, but also necessary to destroy a host of fallacies which will be raised by the friends of misrule. The characters of colonial and un-

penal power are thus neatly expounded by the writer of' the work

-before us— "It s not to be denied, that to a certain extent there is truth in the doctrine that a colony must in some respects be entirely subordinate to the Legislature of the Mother-country ; that there are certain affairs on which the people of the United Kingdom have a voice but on which those of the colony can have none. There are some questions of frequent occurrence which must be settled for the whole empire by one will ; and the will must needs be that of the Imperial Government. A colony of England cannot be at war with a foreign state with which England herself is in peace, or at peace with one which is at war with England. The foreign rela- tions of all parts of the empire must be the same, and must therefore be determined by the same mind. Hence we allow our Colonies no voice, no legislative power, with respect to foreign affairs. The relations of each colony with the rest, must, in the same way, be settled by one common authority.

We cannot allow Jamaica to prohibit imports from Canada or Auetrahn. or can we allow a colony to have a voice contrary to our own on any question connected with the great interests for the promotion of which Great Britain maintains her Colonies. We cannot allow a colony to interfere with the im- migration of British subjects and the disposal of its unocenpiedlands, or the trade with Britain. None will dispute the propriety of Colonial independence in these matters. In respect to them, all admit the necessity of rendering the colony entirely subject to the will of the Mother-country. These arc matters on which the Imperial Legislature has parted with none of its legislative au- thority ; and the persons by whom its laws for the regulation of these matters are to be administered, must of course be responsible to the Imperial authority for their administration.

But again, on the other hand, it must be admitted that there is a large department of Colonial affairs on which the interests of the colony are so en- tirely distinct front those of the empire at large, that the Imperial Government has very wisely left to the Colonies the sole legislative authority with respect to them. Of course we have an interest in all these !natters : it is our inte- rest that every colony in connexion with us should be governed by laws winch shall secure its prosperity. But it has been held, and wisely held, that in all matters affecting immediately the relations of the colonists with one another— affecting their own internal condition—their stake is so much greater, thew attention so much more constantly excited, their means of accurate informa- tion so much more complete, and their interest in avoiding error so flir more immediate, that the best plan is to leave these matters entirely to the Legisla- tures which we have established in the Colonies themselves. We leave to them the entire regulation of their civil and criminal code, of their expenditure, and of the taxation by which it is to be defrayed. The division between the two provinces of Imperial and Colonial legislation has been made on a very sound and very simple principle. On all points which immediately affect the empire at large, the Imperial Government retains its legislative authority ; on all those which immediately affect the colony alone, it allows the colony to legis- late for itself. Such are the limited legislative powers which the state of colo-

nial dependence admits of our allowing to a colony. The question is, whether the maintenance of that dependence requires any greater limitation of the ad-

ministrative than of the legislative powers of the colony—whether it is neces- sary, that those who administer these very laws, the making of which we leave to the people of the colony, should be in nowise responsible to the people for the mode in which they administer them, and should not be liable to be dis- placed if the spirit of the administration be distasteful to that people."

The author proceeds to investigate and describe, with the lifelike knowledge that indicates an actual observation of its work- ings, the character of Colonial parties and politicians ; the little value to the Government of this country of the patronage which is supposed to be involved in-the question; and the utter absurriity of supposing that men will act upon the extreme cases which Lord JOHN RUSSELL invented in his No-Responsible speech, "making poison of their daily bread." lie also proves that, be the apprehended evils of Responsible Government what they may, they cannot exceed those of the present system. A striking picture of the Colonial Office rule is then drawn; showing the constant change of its principals, of which there have been ten since 1W; and pointing out that the control supposed to be exercised by the Mother Country is just nothing — neither Imperial Parliament, nor British public, nor Colonial Secretary, ever exercising the alleged control. He then portrays the individual, or individuals, whom the writer, in common with the public, considers the depository of the real power. This potentate he personifies as "Air. MOTHERCOCNTRY and, after a feigned and facetious account of the impossibility of identifying the individual, he thus describes the


We will not flatter the pride of our Colonial readers by depicting this real arbiter of their destinies as a person of lofty rank or the first class among what we call statesmen. He is probably a person who owes his present position entirely to his own merits and long service. He has worked his way through a long and laborious career of official exertions; and his ambition is limited to the office that he holds, or to some higher grade of the permanent offices under Government. Probably married at an early age, he has to support and edu- cate a large family out of his scanty though sure income. Once or twice a year he dines with his principal—perhaps as often is ith some friend in Parlia- ment or high office. But the greater part of his days are passed out of all reach of aristocratic society : lie has a modest home in the outskirts of London, with an equally modest establishment ; and the colonist who is on his road to " the Office," little imagines that it is the real ruler of the Colonies that he RCS walking over one of the Bridges, or driving his one-horse ehav, or riding cheek by jowl with him on the top of the short coach as he goes into town of a morning. Mr. Mothercountry's whole heart is in the business of his office. Not insensible to the knowledge or the charms of the power which he possesses, habit and a sense of duty are perhaps often the real motives of the unremitting exer- tions by which alone he retains it. For this is the real secret of his influence. Long experience has made him thoroughly conversant with every detail of his bumuess;.and long habit has made his business the main, perhaps with the ex- ception of Ills tinnily the sole source of his interest and enjoyment. By day and by night, at office or home, his labour is constant. No pile of despatches, with thew multifarious enclosures, no red-taped heap of Colonial grievances or squabbles, can scare his practised eye. He handles with unfaltering band the papers at which his superiors quail : and ere they have wailed through one half of them, he suggests the course which the previous measures dictated by himself compel the Government to adopt. He alone knows on what prin- ciples the predecessors of the noble or right honourable Secretary acted before: he alone, therefore, can point out the step which in pursuance of the previous policy it is incumbent to take : and the very advice, which it is thus rendered incumbent on the present Secretary of State to take, produces results that will give him as sure a hold on the next Secretary of State. But with all this real power, Mr. Mothercountry never assumes the airs of dictation to his principal. Every Flange of the head of the department, theuo, really consolidating his power., gives occasion for a kind of mutiny againsat The new Secretary enters with some purpose of independence : lie mas heard ei Mr. Mothercountry's influence, and he is determined that lie will act on las own head. He goes on for a whiles on this plan • but it is sure to be lm lone time ere something is before him for which 'he is obliged to refer to l'AS Mothercountry : he is pleased with his ready, shrewd, and unobtrusive advice: he applies to him on the next occasion with more confidence : he finds that Mr, Mothercountry takes a great deal of trouble off his hands—and great men are sure at last to fall under the dominion of any man that 1611 save them trouble, By degrees, he begins to think that there are some things which it is better to leave altogether to Mr. Mothercountry ; and as to all he soon hinds it 'indent to take no step until he has heard what Mr. Mothercountry has to say stout it. If things go smooth, his confidence in Mr. Mothercountry rises: if they go ill, his dependence on him is only the more riveted, because it is Mr. Mother. country alone who can get him through the Colonial contest or Parliamentary serape in which Ile has involved himself. The more independent he hasbesa at first, the more of these scrapes he has. probably got more dependent he consequently, becomes m the lung rim. The powcr of hI Mothereountry goes en increasing from Secretary to Secretary, nod from month to month (Wert& Secretary's tenure of office ; and the more ulithir,mJ the go. vernment of the Colonies becomes, the more entirely it falls in the hands of the only men in the public service who really know anything about Colo. Mal :Ades.

This is perhaps the best result of such a system ; and our experience of the follies and presumption or the folly Secretary of State thtst ever undertook to act for himself, is a proof that, under the present system, Mr. Mothcrenuntry's ma. nagement is better than flint of the gentlemen whom he generally gem put over his head.

This is the bright side of Mr. MovnEncouNTay. Ins inevitable faults—the limits of routine habits, systematic procrastination, sub. servience to powerful cliques and time inveterate jobbing thrust upon him, with other foibles of office, are described with similar moderation and similar power. These, however, we must pan over, for the sake of giving a sample of the writer in another vein.

THE SIGHINO-ROOMS A'V 'ens: COLONIAL orries, There are rooms in the Colonial Office with old and meagre ffirnitere, book-eases crammed with Colonial gazettes and newspapers, tables covered with baize, and sonic old and crazy chairs scattered about, in which thwe who have pers..nal applications to make. are doomed to wait until the interview ca be n obt,fined. Hera, ir perchance you si iould. some day be fotr,i:,e.ilittint.,t7rir,y1,iyhoutt.

will find strange, an xinffs-boking beings, who pee to and

patience, or sit dejected at the unable in the ugitation of Owl', thoughts to find any occupatIon to while away their hours, and starting every time that the door ernif, in hopes that the messemter is come to announce that their turn is arrived. These are men with Colonial grievances. The very sirs- sengers know them, their Intsiness, and its hopelessness, and eye them with pity as thee bid them wait their long and habitual period of attendance. No experienced eye can mistake the faces, once expressive of health and eoldidence and enerjy, now worn by hopes deferred find the listlessness of prohmged pendence. One is a revalled Governor, boiling over with a sense of lamas(' pride and frustrated pfliq ; another, a Judge, recalled tbr tin mug to resist the Compact of his in] ; imother, a merchant, whose property Ilse (-leen destroyed

re111011ritritiii..; ire Some

by some j1/1) 1/1' ; another, the organ of the

Aar, a widow struggling foe some potoden, muwhich

Item' lio•,.s t 11:11:;;; and perhaps :mother is a man who: e project is under Every cue of these has passed hours in that dull but anxious attendance, and knows every nook and corner of this scene Of his sufferines. The grievance originated probably long years ego, and, bandied about bet Weell Molly and home, by letter or by interview, has dragged on its existence tints far One comes to have an interview with the Chief Secretary; one, who has tried Chief and Untler-Seeretaries its their turn, is now doomed to waste his remonstrance.; co some vials. One bas been waiting it! Vs to have his first interview; another, weeks to have his answer to his memorial ; another, months in expectation of the result of a reference to the colony ; and some reckon the period of their suffering by years. Seine are silent ; some utter aloud their Mires or fears, and pour out their tale on their fellow-agferers; some endeavour to conciliate by their meekness ; some give vent to their rage, when, after hours of attendance, the messenger summons in their stead some sleek contented-looking YiAter, whn has sent up his name only the moment before, but whose importanee as a Member of Parliament, or of some powerful interest or society, obtains hint an instant interview. And it' by chance you should SVC one of them at last receive the long-desired summons, you will be struck at the nervous reluctance with which lie avails himself of the permis- sion. After a short conference, you will generally see him return with dis- appointment stamped on his brow, and, quitting the Office, wend his lonely way home to despeir, or perhaps to retorn to his colony and rebel. These chambers of we are called the Sighing-11,mm; and those who recoil from the sight of human suffering should shun the ill-omened precincts.