Puslapio vaizdai

all parties. Canada, like the rest of the world, had heard of an unhappy land smitten with a hideous plague, of its crops lying in pestilential heaps and of its peasantry dying above them, of fathers, mothers, and children ghastly in their rags or nakedness, of dead unburied, and the living flying in terror, as it were, from a stricken battlefield. This dreadful Irish famine forced to Canada upwards of 100,000 persons, the greater number of whom were totally destitute and must have starved to death had they not received public or private charity. The miseries of these unhappy immigrants were aggravated to an inconceivable degree by the outbreak of disease of a most malignant character, stimulated by the wretched physical condition and by the disgraceful state of the pest ships in which they were brought across the ocean. In those days there was no effective inspection or other means taken to protect from infection the unhappy families who were driven from their old homes by poverty and misery. From Grosse Isle, the quarantine station on the Lower St. Lawrence, to the most distant towns in the western province, many thousands died in awful suffering, and left helpless orphans to evoke the aid and sympathy of pitying Canadians everywhere. Canada was in no sense responsible for this unfortunate state of things. The imperial government had allowed this Irish immigration to go on without making any effort whatever to prevent the evils that followed it from Ireland to the


banks of the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes. It was a heavy burden which Canada should never have been called upon to bear at a time when money was scarce and trade was paralyzed by the action of the imperial parliament itself. Lord Elgin was fully alive to the weighty responsibility which the situation entailed upon the British government, and at the same time did full justice to the exertions of the Canadian people to cope with this sad crisis. The legislature voted a sum of money to relieve the distress among the immigrants, but it was soon found entirely inadequate to meet the emergency.

Lord Elgin did not fail to point out to the colonial secretary "the severe strain" that this sad state of things made, not only upon charity, but upon the very loyalty of the people to a government which had shown such culpable negligence since the outbreak of the famine and the exodus from the plague-stricken island. He expressed the emphatic opinion that "all things considered, a great deal of forbearance and good feeling had been shown by the colonists under this trial." He gave full expression to the general feeling of the country that "Great Britain must make good to the province the expenses entailed on it by this visitation." He did full justice to the men and women who showed an extraordinary spirit of self-sacrifice, a positive heroism, during this national crisis. "Nothing," he wrote, "can exceed the devotion of the nuns and Roman Catholic priests, and the conduct

of the clergy and of many of the laity of other denominations has been most exemplary. Many lives have been sacrificed in attendance on the sick, and administering to their temporal and spiritual need... This day the Mayor of Montreal, Mr. Mills, died, a very estimable man, who did much for the immigrants, and to whose firmness and philanthropy we chiefly owe it, that the immigrant sheds here were not tossed into the river by the people of the town during the summer. He has fallen a victim to his zeal on behalf of the poor plague-stricken strangers, having died of ship fever caught at the sheds." Among other prominent victims were Dr. Power, Roman Catholic Bishop of Toronto, VicarGeneral Hudon of the same church, Mr. Roy, curé of Charlesbourg, and Mr. Chaderton, a Protestant clergyman. Thirteen Roman Catholic priests, if not more, died from their devotion to the unhappy people thus suddenly thrown upon their Christian charity. When the season of navigation was nearly closed, a ship arrived with a large number of people from the Irish estates of one of Her Majesty's ministers, Lord Palmerston. The natural result of this incident was to increase the feeling of indignation already aroused by the apathy of the British government during this national calamity. Happily Lord Elgin's appeals to the colonial secretary had effect, and the province was reimbursed eventually for the heavy expenses incurred by it in its efforts to fight disease, misery and death. English states


men, after these painful experiences, recognized the necessity of enforcing strict regulations for the protection of emigrants crossing the ocean, against the greed of ship-owners. The sad story of 1847-8 cannot now be repeated in times when nations have awakened to their responsibilities towards the poor and distressed who are forced to leave their old homes for that new world which offers them wellpaid work, political freedom, plenty of food and countless comforts.

In the autumn of 1847, Lord Elgin was able to seek some relief from his many cares and perplexities of government, in a tour of the western province, where, to quote his own words, he met "a most gratifying and encouraging reception." He was much impressed with the many signs of prosperity which he saw on all sides. "It is indeed a glorious country," he wrote enthusiastically to Lord Grey, "and after passing, as I have done within the last fortnight, from the citadel of Quebec to the falls of Niagara, rubbing shoulders the while with its free and perfectly independent inhabitants, one begins to doubt whether it be possible to acquire a sufficient knowledge of man or nature, or to obtain an insight into the future of nations, without visiting America." During this interesting visit to Upper Canada, he seized the opportunity of giving his views on a subject which may be considered one of his hobbies, one to which he devoted much attention while in Jamaica, and this was the forma

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tion of agricultural associations for the purpose of stimulating scientific methods of husbandry.

Before the close of the first year of his administration Lord Elgin felt that the time had come for making an effort to obtain a stronger ministry by an appeal to the people. Accordingly he dissolved parliament in December, and the elections, which were hotly contested, resulted in the unequivocal condemnation of the Sherwood cabinet, and the complete success of the Liberal party led by LaFontaine and Baldwin. Among the prominent Liberals returned by the people of Upper Canada were Baldwin, Hincks, Blake, Price, Malcolm Cameron, Richards, Merritt and John Sandfield Macdonald. Among the leaders of the same party in Lower Canada were LaFontaine, Morin, Aylwin, Chauveau and Holmes. Several able Conservatives lost their seats, but Sir Allan MacNab, John A. Macdonald, Mr. Sherwood and John Hillyard Cameron succeeded in obtaining seats in the new parliament, which was, in fact, more notable than any other since the union for the ability of its members. Not the least noteworthy feature of the elections was the return of Mr. Louis J. Papineau, and Mr. Wolfred Nelson, rebels of 1837-8, both of whom had been allowed to return some time previously to the country. Mr. Papineau's career in parliament was not calculated to strengthen his position in impartial history. He proved beyond a doubt that he was only a demagogue, incapable of learning

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