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impartially and completely performed: no personal feelings have interfered ; and I therefore request all those who have been, and are members of the local administration, to believe that I have no desire to attack them as individuals, and that my reflections regard solely their public functions; my sole aim is to afford the people of this country a knowledge of our situation, so that they may be able to rescue the province from its present difficult situation. In giving my feeble talents to the common cause, I aspire to no literary reputation; I submit to an impartial public, with the greatest possible humility, my opinion respecting the political affairs of Lower Canada; and should I succeed in creating an impression favourable to the cause of my country and my compatriots, I shall consider myself amply rewarded for my trouble.
The greatest part of the Canadians, of whom it is my lot to form one, unfortunately know by experience, that advances in literature have, amongst us, of necessity been far from rapid: the cause of this is evident. In a new country, every man is necessarily more employed in the business of procuring the mere necessaries and conveniences of life, than attaining a cultivated understanding. No class exists
there, sufficiently rich and extensive to maintain a body of literary men, by purchasing their labour. Every man is engaged in seeking after the more immediate necessaries for his livelihood; few or none depending on the proceeds of accumulated wealth. In spite of this absence of motives to literary excellence, however, some few remarkable exceptions are to be found; men who, in any country, would be respectable for their literary attainments, but who, when their means of instruction are considered, must be esteemed men of wonderful acquirements.
If I have undertaken to write a book (a strange kind of amusement for a man of my habits), it is not that I have the vanity to place myself amongst this class of rare exceptions; but because, in a time so critical as the present, I think it the duty of every man, interested in the welfare of the Canadian people, to expose before the British public, by all means in his power, the true cause of our evils, and the manner in which they ought to be remedied.
This work is not hastened by immediate circumstances, but is the produce of long reflection and observation, reduced into a small form, to suit the present purpose. Had there been need, it might easily
have been made to assume a more bulky shape, and imposing appearance; it was believed, however, that the object of the undertaking would be best attained, by confining the work to its present moderate dimensions.
In the Appendix (No. III.) will be found a list of such works as might be read with advantage, by those who are desirous of procuring information respecting the colony.
One of these I cannot help noticing en passant. This work was printed at Montreal, and designed exclusively for the colonial office, and a few private friends of the Author in England, and is styled, “Political Annals of Lower Canada, being a Review of the Political and Legislative History of that Province, &c. &c.; by a British Settler.”
The honourable Author, who, with his politics, is perfectly well known, has, for the last twenty or twenty-five years, abused and cried out against every thing connected with the Canadian inhabitants of French extraction—“French Canadians," as he calls them. This is not surprising to persons in the colony, who are acquainted with the politics of the country;
but in England, where the secrets of the local cabinet are little known, such a work as the above produces some effect. It is to be regretted, that the talents of its Author have not been used to destroy, rather than to foment the animosity of the different parties. As a member of the Executive and Legislative Councils, he has had it greatly in his power, during his long residence in Canada, to render himself useful to the Province; had not a desire of domination, and the extraordinary power which he and a few individuals obtained gradually in the administration of the local government, as well, perhaps, as some feelings of private interests (at no time a matter to be passed over as of little consideration), induced him to neglect the public good, and the welfare of its ancient inhabitants, under pretext of favouring a single class, the British settlers, which class, according to him, has not, and never can have interests the same as those of the ancient people of the Province. It would have been easy for me to prove, to what an amazing extent he has been in error, and how much his prejudices have got the better of his reason; such an explanatory digression, however, would be endowed with little interest in the eyes of the public; and they who possess the work will be able, if they please, to judge by the exposition which I am about to lay
before the reader, respecting the policy of the line of conduct which the honourable Author proposes.
In Appendix No. I. will be found a description of the Saguenay territory, an immense tract of country, yet imperfectly known, with some observations respecting the advantages it possesses for new Settlements; and in No. II. a short description of the most useful minerals, and other natural produce of the country.
I have only to add, that the present Work was originally nearly all written in French, and that I have had it translated, in hopes that thereby it may be more generally read.