IN July, 1810, Brock
was still in Quebec. He writes from there to his brother Irving,
thanking him for executing some commissions for him in London. All had
arrived safely with the exception of "a cocked hat," and not receiving
it was a most distressing circumstance, "as," he added, "from the
enormity of my head I find the utmost difficulty in getting a substitute
in this country."
General Brock was most
anxious to go to England, but had almost given up the thought. Several
events of a disturbing nature had occurred in the upper country, and it
was agreed that he should be sent there, whether temporarily or
permanently it was not decided. If a senior brigadier should come out he
would certainly himself be fixed in Upper Canada. With a little
bitterness, not often noticed in his correspondence, he writes: "Since
all my efforts to get more actively employed have failed; since fate
decrees that the best portion of my life is to be wasted in inaction in
the Canadas, I am rather pleased with the prospect of removing upwards."
He writes in his letter of July 10th that three hundred vessels have
already arrived in Quebec. A Guernsey vessel had come, bringing, much to
his delight, letters from his brother Savery, who, after Sir John
Moore's death, had returned home. The May fleet which had arrived from
Portsmouth in thirty days (a very quick passage) had brought nothing for
him—"not the scrape of a pen." His brother Irving was then in London,
writing political pamphlets, which seem to have pleased his brother very
much. He writes: "You have taken a very proper view of the political
discussions which at this moment disgrace England. . . . Those to whom I
have allowed a perusal, and who are infinitely better judges than I can
be, speak of the purity of the language in terms of high approbation. I
am all anxiety for your literary fame."
Quebec seems to have
been particularly gay at this time, in spite of wrangles with the
governor on the part of some of the inhabitants. Two frigates were at
anchor in the harbour, and the arrival of Lieutenant-Governor Gore and
his wife from the Upper Province had given a. zest to the gaiety. There
were races and country and water parties, a continual round of
festivity. Brock remarks: "Such stimulus is necessary to keep our
spirits afloat. I wish I could boast a little more patience." We read
that General Brock contributed to the festivities by giving a grand
dinner in honour of Mrs. Gore, at which Sir James Craig was present; and
also a ball to a "vast assemblage" of the beau monde of the place.
In the midst of the
gaiety he received his orders to depart for the Upper Province, to
remain there if another brigadier should arrive in Quebec. He was
puzzled what to do with his possessions. If he left them behind he would
be miserably off, as he wrote: "Nothing but eatables can be obtained
there, and the expense will be ruinous if I move everything and then am
ordered back. But I must submit to all without repining, and since I
cannot get to Europe I care little where I am placed. I leave the most
delightful garden imaginable, with abundance of melons and other good
He found time before he
left to do an act of kindness to one of the soldiers of the 49th, an act
so natural in him to those who served under him. He writes: "I have
prevailed upon Sir James to appoint Sergeant Robinson, master of the
band, to a situation in the commissariat at Sorel, worth three and
sixpence a day, with subaltern lodging, money and other allowances. He
married a Jersey lass, whose relations may enquire for him."
He tells his sister
that he means to procure in the autumn handsome skins to make muffs for
his two young nieces, Maria and Zelia Potenger. He wants "the two dear
little girls" to write to him, and bids them appreciate the advantages
they are receiving as to education, so different "from this colony,
where the means for education for both sexes are very limited."
By September, 1810,
Brigadier-General Brock is settled at Fort George, and a chatty letter
from the Adjutant-General, Colonel Baylies, tells him what is happening
in Quebec—how Baron de Rottenburg had arrived, and although a year older
than Sir James Craig (who was sixty), looked a much younger man; how his
wife, Madame de Rottenburg, had made a complete conquest of all hearts.
She was remarkably handsome both in face and figure, and her manners
were pleasing, graceful and affable. She was much younger than her
husband, and they both spoke English very well, with but a slight
foreign accent. Sir James Craig was reported as being very well, and his
sixtieth birthday had just been celebrated at a very pleasant party at
Powell Place. Colonel Baynes told Brock that there had just been a
court-martial on some deserters. Two, one of them a Canadian, had been
sentenced to be shot; the others, a dozen in number, were to be
sentenced to be transported to serve for life in Africa.
Brock writes to his
brother in September, from Fort George, a very homesick letter. He says:
"At present, Vincent, Glegg, and Williams enliven this lonesome place.
They are here on a court-martial, but will soon depart, and I will be
left to my own reflections. I hope to obtain leave after Christmas. The
arrival of Baron de Rottenburg has, I think, diminished my prospect of
advancement in this country. I should stand, evidently, in my own light
if I did not court fortune elsewhere."
He had taken a trip to
Detroit which he thought had most delightful surroundings, far exceeding
anything he had seen on the continent. "As to the manners of the
American people, I do not admire them at all. I have met with some whose
society was everything one could desire, and at Boston and New York such
characters are, I believe, numerous, but these are the exceptions." He
had not had a letter from Europe since May. He continues, "I wish you
would write to me by way of New York. I avail myself of an unexpected
passenger to scribble this in presence of many of the court, who tell me
it is time to resume our labours, therefore, my beloved brother, adieu."
A list still remains of
the books which helped to enliven his solitude at Niagara.1 Among them
one finds Johnson's Works, twelve volumes; Reed's and Bell's Editions of
Shakespeare; Plutarch's Lives; Hume's Essays; Arthur on Courts Martial;
Rollins' Ancient History; Marshall's Travels; Life of Cond£; Wharton's
Virgil; Francis's Horace; Gregory's Dictionary of Arts and Sciences;
Pope's Works; Expedition to Holland; Si&clede Louis Quatorze; Gui-bert's
(Euvres Militaires; Rdglement de l'lnfanterie; Aventures de Teldmaque;
Voltaire's La Henriade; Walcheren Expedition; Erudition Militaire; King
of Prussia's Tactics; European Magazine; Edinburgh Review; Memoirs of
Talleyrand; Wolfe's Orders; Reflexions sur les Freguges Militaires;
Hume's Works. He writes to his brother, "I read much, but good books are
scarce, and I hate borrowing, I like to read a book quickly and
afterwards revert to such passages as have made the deepest impression
and which appear to me important to remember, a practice I cannot
conveniently pursue unless the book is mine. Should you find that I am
likely to remain here I wish you to send me some choice authors in
history, particularly ancient history, with maps, and the best
translation of ancient works. I read in my youth Pope's translation of
Homer, but till lately never discovered its exquisite beauties. I firmly
believe the same propensity was always inherent in me, but strange to
tell, although many were paid extravagantly, I never had the advantage
of a master to guide and encourage me. I rejoice that my nephews are
Brock's application for
leave was not favourably received by Sir James Craig, who was strongly
impressed with the necessity of having some one like him in the Upper
Province to correct the errors and neglect that had crept in there.
Baynes writes: " In confidence between ourselves, I do not think he will
be more ready to part with you in consequence of the arrival of Colonel
Murray, who is not at all to his taste." It seems that Colonel
(afterwards the distinguished Major-General Murray), had offended the
governor at a dinner by warmly espousing and defending the opinions of
Cobbett respecting German troops and foreign officers, although sitting
opposite to Baron de Rottenburg.
Baynes writes that
Brock's successor, the baron, was a good kind of man and devoted to his
profession, "but," he continues, "it would be vain to attempt to
describe the genuine admiration and estimation of his cava dolce sposa.
Young, only twenty-three—fair, beautiful, lively, discreet, witty,
affable—in short, so engaging, or rather, so fascinating that neither my
courier nor my paper will admit of my doing her justice. Nevertheless
the charms of madame have not effaced you from the recollection of your
friends, who very sincerely regret your absence."
He reports that two
hundred volunteers for Colonel Zouch, from other veteran battalions, had
arrived and landed. The regiment was to be completed in this manner to
Baynes writes again
about Brock's leave and says that he had talked with the
commander-in-chief, who expressed his desire to forward his views, but
said that he had been contending so long for the necessity of a third
general officer being kept constantly on the staff of the Canadas, that
he did not feel at liberty to overset the arrangement which he had been
two years soliciting. When he (Baynes), said that Brock regretted
inaction, and looked with envy on those employed in Spain and Portugal,
the governor replied, "I make no doubt of it; but X can in no shape aid
his plans in that respect." "If he liked you less," Baynes continued,
"he might perhaps be more readily induced to let you go."
Brock had taken a great
interest in an old veteran, formerly in the 8th, or King's, the regiment
in which he had begun his military life, and in which his brother John
had served. Colonel Baynes writes, " I have not failed to communicate to
Sir James your account of and your charity towards the poor old fellow.
He has in consequence directed the allowance of the ration to be
authorized and continued to him; but I am to remind you of the danger of
establishing a precedent of this nature, and to request, in the
general's name, that you will refrain as much as possible from indulging
the natural benevolence of your disposition in this way, as he has
hitherto resisted all applications of this sort."
At this time, early in
1811, Lieutenant-Governor Gore was contemplating a visit to England, and
there was some correspondence between him and General Brock about the
location of a grant of five thousand acres of land that had been made
some years before to Colonel Vesey. Brock had promised the latter to
arrange about it before the lieutenant-governor left Canada, and wrote
that there were tracts of excellent land on Lake Erie belonging to the
Crown, and also that a new township was being surveyed near the head of
Lake Ontario, either of which situations would be eligible. The
lieutenant-governor replied that it was not in his power to comply with
Colonel Vesey's wish in respect of location without a special order from
the king, as in the case of Colonel Talbot, and that it was impossible
in any township to obtain five thousand acres in a block.
remarked in his letter that he thought President Madison's address very
hostile to England, but that congress would hesitate before consenting
to go the length he proposes. "Taking forcible possession of West
Florida may provoke a war sooner than any other act. It is impossible to
foresee how this may be viewed by the Cortez."
As to Florida, a
convention of American citizens settled near the borders of West
Florida, had attacked the Spanish fort at Baton Rouge, and announced
that country to be a free and independent state. The leader of the
convention then wrote to the secretary of state, urging that it should
be annexed to the United States, but claiming all public lands for
themselves. In reply the president sent a sharp message to the
revolutionary convention saying that their independence was an
impertinence and their design on public lands something worse. He also
issued a proclamation announcing that Governor Claiborne would take
possession of West Florida. The military occupation of the country was,
in fact, an act of war against Spain, but that kingdom which had once
held sway over two American continents, from the sources of the Missouri
and the Mississippi to the borders of Patagonia, was powerless to
Letters of this date
speak of the awful suspense felt in England while the armies of
Wellington and Massena were in such close proximity, and the latter was
advancing on the lines of Torres Vedras to drive the English army into
the sea. They speak, too, of the sad illness of the old king, who after
the death of the Princess Amelia had relapsed into hopeless insanity.
Brock writes, "If we are to be governed by a regent I trust that
ambition, jealousy or party interests, will not conspire to diminish or
circumscribe his regal powers."
He writes to his
brother, Irving Brock, that he had seen "Thoughts on Political
Transactions," in answer to his admirable pamphlet, and remarks that the
author appears to proclaim his servile attachment to Bonaparte without
in any way refuting his (Irving's) arguments.
Another notable man
among General Brock's friends writes to him in January. This was Colonel
Kempt, afterwards General Sir James Kempt, G.C.B., governor-general of
Colonel Kempt was at
this time quartermaster-general in Canada, and had, under Sir James
Craig, superintended the building of roads and bridges in the Lower
Province. In November, 1811, he was made local major-general in Spain
and Portugal. He afterwards served on the staff in America and in
Flanders. He was made a K.C.B. in January, 1815, was wounded at
Waterloo, and was then promoted to be a Grand Cross. The sovereigns of
Austria, Russia and the Netherlands also decorated him for his services.
In 1820 he was governor of Nova Scotia in place of the Earl of
Dalhousie, whom he succeeded as governor-general of Canada. He died in
England after a long and glorious career, at the age of ninety.
Colonel Kempt wrote to
Brock on the subject of his leave. He assured him that he had no reason
to dread being unemployed in any rank while he wished to serve. "This
opinion, my dear general," he writes, "is not given rashly or upon
slight grounds—before I came to this country I had, you must know,
several opportunities of hearing your name mentioned at head-quarters,
both by General Calvert and Colonel Gordon, who unquestionably spoke the
sentiment of the then commander-in-chief, and in such a way as to
impress me with a thorough conviction that few officers of your rank
stood higher in their estimation. In short, I have no manner of doubt
whatever that you will readily obtain employment upon active service the
moment that you do get home, and with this view I recommend you to
express, through Baynes, your sense of His Excellency's good intentions
and wishes to you in respect to leave of absence, and your hopes that
when the circumstances of the country are such as will permit him to
grant six months' leave to a general officer, that this indulgence will
be extended in the first instance to you.
"I am very happy that
you are pleased with Mrs. Murray. I have just received a long letter
from her, giving me an account of a splendid ball given by you to the
beau monde of Niagara and its vicinity. The manner in which she speaks
of your liberality and hospitality reminds me of the many pleasant hours
I have passed under your roof. We have no such parties now. Sir James
being ill prevents the usual public days at the Castle, and nothing more
stupid than Quebec now is can be imagined."
The Mrs. Murray
mentioned in this letter was a cousin of Colonel Kempt. Brock, in one of
his letters from Fort George, says, "Colonel Murray of the 100th went
home last year and brought out a charming little wife, full of good
sense and spirit. They dined with me yesterday." A letter from Colonel
Baynes also mentions receiving a letter from Murray, and he
congratulates General Brock on having found means to enliven the
solitary scene that had so long prevailed at Fort George.
Letters from home had
cheered the general's heart. "What can I say," he writes, "from this
remote corner in return for the pleasure I experience at the receipt of
your letters." He speaks of his life as sombre, and yet thinks that the
enforced quiet has done his health good. He begs his brother Irving to
dispel all fears about him.
He had just returned in
February from York, where he had spent ten days with the
lieutenant-governor, whom he pronounces "as generous and honest a being
as ever existed." He found Mrs. Gore perfectly well and very agreeable.
Their society, he said, was ample compensation for travelling over the
worst roads he had ever met with. He and the governor, who had formerly
been quartered with the 44th in Guernsey, had talked over old days in
the Channel Islands, and had recalled with pleasure the simple
hospitality that reigned there, and the charming society of Guernsey and
Jersey, "where, although there was little communication with England,
there were always officers in the garrison to be entertained."
Brock writes of the
reports from New York as to the many failures there, and says,
"Merchants there are in a state of great confusion and dismay. A
dreadful crash is not far off."
The news he had
received from Quebec was that Sir James had triumphed completely over
the French faction in the Lower Province, and that the House of Assembly
had passed every bill required of it, among others, one authorizing the
governor-general and three councillors to imprison any one without
assigning a cause.
The House of Assembly
at Quebec had met on December 10th, 1810, and the inaugural address had
been very conciliatory. The governor did not allude to any vexed
questions, but protested that he had never doubted the loyalty and zeal
of the previous assemblies he had convoked. In reply, the assembly
observed, "We shall earnestly concur in all that is done tending to the
maintenance of unbroken tranquillity, a state all the more difficult to
preserve in this province as those who inhabit it cherish a diversity of
ideas, habitudes and prejudices, not easy to reconcile."
The governor justified
the acts committed as to imprisonment of members, and said that only
those who had too much reason to dread the law inclined to object to its
potency, and the united clamour of such might have deceived the assembly
as to their real number.
In the meantime the
vexatious Bddard still remained in prison. The assembly drew up an
address on his behalf, and the elder Papineau had an interview on the
subject with the governor at the Castle. The latter in his reply to M.
Papineau, said: "It is the common discourse of the assembly that they
intend to oblige me to release M. Bédard. I think, therefore, that it is
time the people should be made to understand the rightful limits of the
several powers in the state, and that the House, while it represents,
yet has no right to directly govern the country."
The session passed
peacefully, and at its close, when all the members had returned to their
homes, Bédard was quietly and unconditionally released by the executive.
It was the last public act of Sir James Craig's administration.
The act which had been
the cause of so much trouble, namely that of excluding the judges from
the assembly, was one of the laws passed, and strange to say, in
proroguing the House, the governor said, "Among the acts to which I have
just declared His Majesty's assent, there is one which I have seen with
peculiar satisfaction. I mean the act for disqualifying the judges from
holding a seat in the House of Assembly."
The opinions of the
official and military class as to the proceedings of the House, may be
gathered from a letter of Colonel Baynes to Brock, in March. " You will
see by Sir James' speech the very complete triumph his firmness and
energy have obtained over the factious cabal of this most contemptible
assembly. Bddard will shortly be released. "That fellow alone of the
whole gang has nerve, and does not want ability or inclination to do
mischief whenever opportunity offers; the rest, old Papineau and the
blustering B. (Bourdages), are all white livered renegades to a man; but
when Sir James' back is turned they will rally and commence the same
bullying attack on his successor, who, I trust, will follow his
In the meantime, Mr.
Ryland in England had not found his task an easy one, nor had he met
with the reception he had hoped for. Mr. Perceval, the prime minister,
Lord Liverpool, the minister of war, and Mr. Robert Peel, the under
secretary for the colonies, received him with perfect courtesy, and
asked many questions, but Mr. Ryland made no progress in his design of
changing the constitution. One point he particularly wished to press,
namely, the necessity of controlling the patronage of the Roman Catholic
Church so that the clergy would be on the government side. The assembly
in its session of 1810, had offered to undertake the expenses of the
civil government hitherto borne by England. Ryland's scheme was to take
possession of the Jesuit estates and also of those of the seminary at
Montreal. From these he proposed to grant a certain sum for education,
and to apply the rest to the civil government, and thus do away with the
necessity of supplies being voted by the assembly. In fact, his
intention was to break the power of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada
by taking away its endowments. Mr. Ryland also proposed that the
province should revert to government by the legislative council without
the assembly, as it was previous to the Canada Act.
Lord Liverpool was
afraid, if the act of 1791 was annulled, that Lord Grenville, the father
of the act, would rally his followers in favour of the French Canadians.
He suggested a redivision of constituencies so as to obtain a greater,
number of English representatives, and also thought that members might
be conciliated by other means.
Several matters were
referred to the attorney-general, who said that it was possible for
parliament to unite the two provinces under a single government, but
that he thought no new division could be made of electoral districts,
nor in the number of representatives. As to the question of Le Canadien,
the ministers did not think the passages quoted from it were strong
enough to fix on its publishers a charge of treason, and it might be
difficult, they thought, to justify what had been done in the matter of
their arrest and imprisonment. They were inclined to call the passages
quoted seditious libels. The extreme measures taken were, perhaps,
excusable, but not strictly justifiable. In fact, the attorney-general
said that such an arbitrary measure as the suppression of Le Canadien
would not have been tolerated in England.
Mr. Ryland's mission
was a failure, but in order to conceal his discomfiture "he decided to
remain in England for the winter, nor did he return to Canada until the
spring of 1812. In the meantime this poor governor's health broke down
utterly. General Brock wrote in March, 1811: "Sir James cannot long
survive the frequent attacks of his disorder. His death will be bewailed
by all who possess the feelings of Englishmen in this country."