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gards strength of character, his force consisted in passion, not in principle. No vicious man ever lashed vice in others with more power. Not an inconsiderable portion of his writings, both in prose and verse, represents him as the critic of his contemporaries, and the censor and satirist of his age. When we read some of his fierce attacks on George the Fourth,
“ The fourth of the fools and cowards, called George," and the bitterness of invective with which he treated the sins of other prominent culprits, we are ready to exclaim, with Sir Thomas Browne, " While thou so hotly disclaimest against the Devil, be not guilty of diabolism.” Again, no man volunteered his opinions with more freedom on literature, theology, politics, and society; but it is difficult to make any discrimination between his opinions and his antipathies, or to discover any law of change which regulated the passage of his antipathies into his loves. His taste was capricious in the extreme. His opinion of any person, or any institution, or any aspiration, varied with the physical variations of his body, and was often very different after a debauch from what it was after a ride. No one could inser his judgment of to-morrow from his judgment of to-day. The friend that appeared in the eulogy of one week was likely to point the squib of the next. His consistency in criticism was according to his constancy in hatred. Wordsworth and Southey he always disliked and always abused. As a critic, he has propounded some of the most untenable opinions ever uttered by a man of genius. He often mistook his whims and antipathies for laws of taste.
When Keats's poems appeared, he entreats Murray to get some one to crush the litile mannikin to pieces. After the article in the Quarterly was published, and the death of Keats was supposed to have been accelerated by its brutality, he abuses Murray for killing him, and discovers that there was much merit in the "mandikin's” poetry. It would be easy to multiply examples of this instability and levity of character; but for any reader of his letters and journals, such instances would be needless.
The personal and poetical popularity of Byron is still great.
The circulation of his works, even at the present time, exceeds that of Wordsworth, Shelley, Southey, and VOL. LX. —NO. 126.
Coleridge united. Scott is the only poet, among his contemporaries, who at all rivals him in the number of readers. Many of his gloomy creations will long frown defiance
upon time. It is certainly a calamity to the world, that a poet possessing such wide influence over the heart should too often have exercised it in cultivating and honoring its base and moody passions ; should have robed sin in beauty, and conferred dignity on vice ; should have given new allurements to that Dead-sea fruit,
“ Which tenipts the eye,
But turns to ashes on the lip"; should bave shown such brilliant audacity in assaults on the dearest interests of society; and, by the force of his example and the splendor of his mind, should be able to perpetuate his errors and his vices through many generations to come. It is of importance, not only to morals, but to taste, that there should be no delusion as to the nature of these perversions of his genius ; that his wit should not shield his ribaldry from condemnation, nor his imagination be received in extenuation of his blasphemy. In speaking of Byron, as in speaking of men of meaner minds, things should be called by their right names. The method too apt to be pursued towards him is to gloss over his faults with some smooth sentimentalities about his temptations ; or to speak of them with a singular relaxation of the rigidity of moral laws. But it seems to us impossible to defend his character, even as we defend the character of many men of genius whose lives labor under some bad imputations. As soon as sophistry has dexterously disposed of one charge, a thousand others crowd up to be answered. He has written his own condemnation. The faults of his life blaze out in his verse, and glitter on almost every page of his correspondence. And the most that charity itself can do is to repeat the mournful regret of the good abbot over the sins of Manfred :
• This should have been a noble creature : he
Hath all the energy which would have made
Art. IV. - Proclamations of His Excellency Sir Charles
Theophilus Metcalfe, Baronet, K. C. B., for dissolving the Provincial Parliament of Canada, and for the Election of a House of Assembly for that Colony. Canada Gazette Extraordinary, Sept. 23, 1844.
an Although we seldom turn our attention to the affairs of our Colonial neighbours, we still regard an occasional allusion to them as within the line of our duty. The United States, being the ruling power in this hemisphere, cannot but feel a deep interest in the political condition of all who inhabit the same continent, especially of those who are still in allegiance to the crown to which we once acknowledged fealty. Beside the tie of common British origin, there exists between many of the people of the Colonies north and east of us, and many of our own citizens, the bond of kindred blood. The causes of this affinity were briefly noticed at the close of an article on the Loyalists of our Revolution, in our last number. In considering now the political discontents of the inhabitants of British America, we shall have some occasion to refer to this class of our countrymen again ; since they and their descendants are intimately concerned in these discontents, and in the public affairs of the British possessions in America, generally. Leaving them, however, and the French and English races who people these possessions, for the present, we propose first to consider somewhat in detail the disputes to which they and their rulers in the Old World are parties, and which have long disturbed the relations between England and her Colonies. Our remarks will be confined to Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick; and as these disputes commenced in the Colony first named, and still are far the most serious there in character, they claim our first notice.
It may be said at the outset, that Great Britain has hardly had a moment's quiet with this possession since the day when Wolfe rose from a sick-bed to “die happy” in planting her fag on the walls of Quebec. To ascertain the reasons for the existing state of things, therefore, it may be necessary to trace the course of events ever since the treaty of Paris, in 1763, by which England annexed this province to her American dominions. After the conquest, and before the
cession, there arose an exciting controversy among some of the leading statesmen of the time, whether it should be retained or restored to France, and the island of Guadaloupe be added to the British dominions in its stead. There seems to have been a prevalent fear, that, if Canada were kept, the Colonies, rid of all apprehensions from the French, would increase at an alarming rate, and finally throw off their dependence on the mother country. A tract was published in support of this view, supposed to have been written either by Edmund or William Burke, to which Dr. Franklin replied in his happiest and ablest manner. * Nor did the dispute end here; for the charge was openly made, that the treaty
of peace which restored to France Bellisle, Goree, Guadaloupe, St. Lucia, Martinique, and Havana, which guarantied to her people the use of the Newfoundland fisheries, and which retained an acquisition of so doubtful value as Canada, was the result of corrupt bargaining; and Junius, in his celebrated letter to the Duke of Bedford, who negotiated the treaty, openly accuses him of having received bribes.
The Colony was now placed under a military government, though the king, by proclamation, announced his intention of granting, as soon as circumstances would permit, a legislative assembly. That this promise was not redeemed for twenty-eight years was at once an error of policy, and a breach of the royal faith. For four years, officers of the army were both governors and judges ; and for a considerable period afterwards, orders in council were the only checks on their will, and the only protection thrown around the Canadian's rights. In 1774, it was deemed expedient by the ministry to pay some attention to the abuses that had grown up, and to introduce into parliament a bill designed ostensibly to correct them. This bill provided for the restoration of the Customs of Paris in regard to the transmission of property, for the introduction of the English criminal law and the trial by jury, and it lodged the legislative and executive power in a governor and council ; but as it contained no provision for an assembly, it gave great dissatisfaction to the British emigrants who had settled in Can
* Mr. Sparks says, that this reply “ was believed to have had great weight in the ministerial councils, and to have been mainly instrumental in causing Canada to be held at the peace.”
ada in the hope of enjoying the same privileges as the subjects of the mother country.
As the passage of this bill is one of the twenty-six grievances enumerated by our fathers in the Declaration of Independence, it may be worth further notice. In the Lords, the measure seems to have encountered no very formidable opposition ; but in the Commons, it produced a most angry debate. Several witnesses were exantined at the bar, among whom were the governor, the chief justice, and the former attorney-general of Canada, the advocate-general, and a Canadian gentleman. In the testimony and opinions of these dignitaries there was little harmony. The governor declared, that the Canadians disapproved of the trial by jury, because they thought it “ very extraordinary, that English gentlemen should believe their property safer, in the hands of tailors, shoemakers, and people in trade, than in those of the judges”; he said, they disapproved of the introduction of English civil law, because they do not know what it is"; and that they desired no assembly, on account of the disputes which they saw prevailing between the crown and the representative bodies of the other Colonies. On this latter point, the chief justice was of the same opinion ; for, as he pithily said, their only idea of an assembly was “ that of a house of riot and confusion, which meets only to impede public business, and to distress the crown." Very different were the sentiments of the French noble, who believed that his conquered countrymen were very desirous of having an assembly, but had refrained from making their wishes known, because they understood that they would be compelled to bear the expense which its introduction would cause ; and such a burden they were unable to endure. With regard to their preference for the English or French code of law, he was of opinion, that the former would be unobjectionable, if the tenures of land were allowed to remain unaltered. Upon the point of descents, dower, and transfer of lands, the former Colonial attorney-general expressed the same views; and he was convinced also, that, in other respects, the people would be satisfied with the abolition of the system which had been established by France.
The speeches which preceded and followed this examination were printed, and they show the warmth of the debate.