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Joseph Howe
Chapter X - Incidents


MR. HOWE had always a yearning desire to visit England and note in person the scenic aspects and industrial developments of Great Britain, and also to come in contact with her public men and study on the spot her political institutions. At the close of the session of 1838, he sailed on April 28th for England accompanied by T. C. Haliburton (Sam Slick), and did not return until November. During that time he not only travelled over a large part of Great Britain and Ireland, but also visited France, Belgium, and a portion of Germany. He contributed to the Nova Scotian a series of delightful articles under the title of "A Nova Scotian in England." These have never been published in separate form, but they would make as interesting a book of travels as any that have been published in this country.

On the voyage across, the ship upon which Howe had taken passage was overtaken by the steamer Syrius, which had made a trial trip to America from England and was on her return voyage. The captain of the Tyrian, on which Howe was sailing, determined to send his mails on board of her. Mr. Howe visited the steamer while she was lying to and was entertained by the captain, after which he returned to his ship which lay becalmed, while the steamer proceeded easily upon her voyage. This incident so far impressed Mr. Howe, whose eye was ever alert for anything that would operate favourably to his country, that he devoted himself, on his arrival in England, to the task of drawing the attention of the colonial minister to the desirability of establishing steam communication between Great Britain and Halifax. Mr. William Crane, a prominent man from New Brunswick, was in London at the time and he joined with Mr. Howe in a letter addressed to Lord Glenelg. Two extracts from this letter will serve to demonstrate how clearly Howe grasped the problem of steam communication between Great Britain and British North America and how broad and far-reaching were his views in this regard even at this early date:—

"Since the undersigned left the colonies, and after the close of the legislative sessions, the successful voyages made to and from England and New York have solved the problem of the practicability of steam navigation across the Atlantic, and rendered a revision of the system of packet communication between Great Britain and her North American provinces extremely desirable, if not a measure of absolute necessity. Assuming that no reasonable doubt can any longer be entertained that the commercial and public correspondence of Europe and America may now, and to a vast extent will, be conveyed by steam, the question arises whether the line of packets between the mother country and the important provinces of North America, should not be immediately put upon a more efficient footing. This question, for a variety of reasons, is beginning to press itself strongly upon the minds, not only of the colonists generally, but of all those who in this country are engaged in commercial relations with them, or are aware of the importance, in a political point of view, of drawing them into closer connection with the parent state. . . .

"If Great Britain is to maintain her footing upon the North American continent—if she is to hold the command of the extensive sea coast from Maine to Labrador, skirting millions of square miles of fertile lands, intersected by navigable rivers, indented by the best harbours in the world, containing now a million and a half of people and capable of supporting many millions, of whose aid in war and consumption in peace she is secure—she must, at any hazard of even increased expenditure for a time, establish such a line of rapid communication by steam, as will ensure the speedy transmission of public despatches, commercial correspondence and general information, through channels exclusively British, and inferior to none in security and expedition. If this is not done, the British population on both sides of the Atlantic are left to receive, through foreign channels, intelligence of much that occurs in the mother country and the colonies, with at least ten days, in most cases, for erroneous impressions to circulate before they can be corrected. Much evil has already arisen from the conveyance of intelligence by third parties, not always friendly or impartial; and, from the feverish excitement along the frontier, the indefatigable exertions of evil agents, and the irritation not yet allayed in the Canadas, since the suppression of the late rebellions, it is of the highest importance that a line of communication should be established, through which not only official correspondence but sound information can be conveyed. The pride, as well as the interests of the British people, would seem to require means of communication with each other, second to none which are enjoyed by other states."

Very soon after this, Mr. Samuel Cunard of Halifax, with great foresight and enterprise, established a steamship line between Great Britain and Halifax, which created many bright hopes in the breasts of the people of that city at the time. The enterprise grew to such proportions that the Cunard line subsequently made New York the terminal point on this continent and developed into one of the great steamship lines of the world. The desirability, however, of direct rapid transit between Great Britain and Canada, through some convenient point on the Atlantic coast, has continued to occupy the attention of the public men of this country to the present day, and no words advocating this project have been couched in broader and more effective terms than those uttered by Joseph Howe in 1838.

Howe visited England many times after this, as will have been observed from the records of the preceding chapters of this book. He became to a large degree associated with the public men of Great Britain, and was, in his day, perhaps the most conspicuous figure in London among the colonial statesmen of the empire.

An incident which illustrates Howe's determination to uphold his cause at all hazards' occurred in 1840. It is unnecessary to state that the persistent and successful attacks which he was making upon the salaried and governing class of Nova S.cotia excited the bitterest hostility. At first an attempt to ' crush him by ridicule and ostracism was tried, but this proving unsuccessful, and Howe's capacity and possibilities becoming each day greater, the leading spirits of the governing class became desperate. It has been mentioned that in 1840, after the resolutions had passed asking for the recall of Sir Colin Campbell, public meetings were held in Halifax and elsewhere in the province to discuss this burning question. At one of these meetings Johnston made a speech of considerable length and importance, which Howe had no opportunity of answering on the spot. He replied to it in two stinging letters addressed to the people of Nova Scotia, and in these he arraigned the existing irresponsible system of government, the high salaries which were paid to the chief justice, Sir Rupert D. George and others, and plainly intimated that if these gentlemen were to give up their positions, they could be filled on more moderate salaries by men of equal if not greater capacity. The publication of these letters promptly evoked a challenge to Mr. Howe. It may be mentioned that his first invitation to an affair of honour had come two years previously from Doctor Almon, who was then just beginning to practice in Halifax, who afterwards became a senator and died but a few years ago, and who was well known all his life for his somewhat extreme views on many questions. This matter was disposed of without a meeting. So far as can be gathered, young Almon was unable to obtain any leading man to act for him in this proposed affair. But after the publication of the letter to the people of Nova Scotia, Mr. John C. Halliburton (son of the chief justice, Sir Brenton Halliburton) believing his father to have been insulted in this letter, sent a formal challenge to Howe, which was promptly accepted, his old and staunch friend, Herbert Huntington, undertaking to act for him and be his second in the duel. It may seem strange at this time that any public man would think of risking his life on the field of honour in this country, and the sixty or more years that have intervened since then have so far wrought a change in public opinion, that anything of the kind would be considered preposterous at this date; but in 1840 duelling had not entirely disappeared in Halifax, and Howe felt it his duty to accept. Fortunately, we have on record his own words of justification and a full analysis of all the incidents which seemed to make the step necessary, in a letter written to his sister shortly after the event, which will be read not without interest at this present time:—

"Your long letter only confirmed my apprehension that you would be startled and worried by the duel. I fully appreciate all you said, and enter into your feelings—but nobody but myself could exactly understand the requirements of my position, and, constituted as society is, the almost imperative necessity there was for my taking the step. Providence, in this case, mercifully preserved me, for which, I trust, I shall never cease to be thankful, and strengthened my hands by the very means which were taken to disturb me. For my own part, I hate and detest duelling as much as you do—as much as anybody can. A person who engages in it lightly must be a fool—he who is fond of it must be a villain. It is a remnant of a barbarous age, which civilization is slowly but steadily wearing away, but still it is not worn out. There are perhaps three views taken of duelling by three large classes of persons at the present day—the religious people view it with abhorrence, as an ordeal in which there is no justice and by resorting to which the express commands of the Deity are violated—the fashionable, those who fancy themselves possessed of a more elevated station in society than the rest of their fellow-creatures, and who believe that they have higher notions of honour and a monopoly of courage and fine feeling, cherish and boast of this institution as one peculiarly their own, although they have no more real affection for it than their neighbours—while the great body of the people, those who settle their own differences with fists, sticks and horsewhips, while they seldom resort to the pistol, are yet admirers of personal intrepidity in all its forms, and rely with more affectionate attachment upon a leader in the senate or the cabinet, if assured that he is fit to lead them in the field. My own belief is that there are situations which try the moral courage more severely than duelling. So far as my experience goes I would rather stand a shot than go through the 'rescinding of the resolutions,' the 'libel trial,' or the moving of the 'address of censure.' On either and all these occasions there was more at stake than a limb as far as I was concerned—more than a life as regarded the country, and I suffered a thousand times more than on the morning I went out with Halliburton. Indeed that affair was done with as much coolness as any other piece of business. I had been long impressed with the conviction that it would have to be done with somebody, at some time, and had balanced the pros and cons and regarded the matter as settled. So long as the party I opposed possessed all the legislative influence they did not much mind my scribbling in the newspapers—when I got into the House they anticipated that a failure there would weaken my influence as a political writer, and believing I would fail, were rather glad than sorry. When, however, they found I not only held my own, against the best of them, but was fast combining and securing a majority upon principles striking at the root of their monopoly, they tried the effect of wheedling, and, that failing, resorted to intimidation.

"For the first two sessions Uniacke's bearing and speeches were most insolent and offensive. I let him go on for some time, till the House was satisfied that he had earned a dressing, and then curried him down once or twice to his own surprise and that of his friends, who expected that he would have challenged me. He did not, however, although I fully expected it. He saw I was determined, was satisfied and altered his tone. Another member of the party was annoyed at a speech I made two or three years ago and demanded an apology. I consulted Dodd who was an old hand at such work; we handed the parties the reporter's notes of the speech and refused to apologize for a word of it. The gentleman, finding we were not to be bullied, thought fit to be satisfied. Winter before last, young Dr. Almon called me out—his father abused me in the council and I skinned him in the House. This was easily disposed of. . . .

"Thus stood matters when Halliburton's message came. To him I could not object. Though younger than me and having neither any family nor political party depending on him, still he was in the situation of a gentleman and had a right to make the demand. Had I ever been out with anybody I would at once have refused or explained—because in fact there had only been a fair comparison of different classes, and no insult in the matter; but feeling assured that he could not draw back, and that if I did it would subject me to repeated annoyances from others, and, perhaps, either weaken my position as a public man, or compel me to shoot some fellow at last, I selected a friend whom I knew would go through with it if necessary. He did his best to prevent it, but the thing had to be done, and all is well that ends well. I never intended to fire at him and would not for ten thousand pounds—all that was necessary was for me to let them see that the Reformers could teach them a lesson of coolness and moderation, and cared as little for their pistols, if anything was to be got by fighting, as for their arguments and abuse. I know you will say that the risk was greater than any advantage would justify—morally speaking it was—politically, there were strong temptations and among them the one which I know you will prize the highest was the perfect 240 independence I received to explain or apologize— to fight or refuse—in future. A proof of the advantage gained in this respect was shown a fortnight ago. Sir Rupert D. George being annoyed at a passage in the first letter to the solicitor-general, sent John Spry Morris to me with a challenge. My answer was, 'that never having had any personal quarrel with Sir Rupert, I should not fire at him if I went out, and that having no great fancy for being shot at by every public officer whose intellect I might happen to contrast with his emoluments, I begged leave to decline.' This I could not have done had he come first, but now, the honour was not equal to the risk— nothing was to be gained either for myself or my cause—they got laughed at and nobody blamed me."

The meeting took place one morning in the spring of 1840 at a place in Point Pleasant Park near the old Tower. It had been arranged that the affair should come off at an early hour, and Howe and Huntington were upon the scene at the time appointed. Pistols were used and Halliburton fired first. Fortunately, he missed his aim. Howe, with that generous and chivalrous nature which always characterized him, discharged his pistol in the air and the affair was over. Mr. Howe asked Mr. Huntington to breakfast, and they went back from this exciting meet in a somewhat serious mood. Very little was said at the breakfast hour, and Mrs. Howe, remarking the unusual silence, asked: "What is the matter with you all this morning, one would think you had been to a funeral?" and then it was that Howe for the first time related .to her the incidents which indicated that he had been much nearer to a funeral than she had suspected. On the day of the duel Howe wrote and left with Huntington four letters to be delivered in case anything serious should occur. Two were in respect of business matters and it .is not necessary to refer to them. Of the other two, one was addressed to his wife, and the other to the people of Nova Scotia. These two letters will be read with sympathetic interest, not only by those who knew him and appreciated the tenderness of his nature, but by all those who respect under all conditions a brave and loving heart. To his wife he wrote:—

"The painful alternative of risking my life has been forced upon me, very unnecessarily, as I conceive, but in a way and from a quarter that it may not be put aside. You know my sentiments upon these matters and the view I take of all the obligations which my position imposes. If I fall, my will, made before going to England, will secure to you and the children all I am worth. Sell the Pearl, keep up the Nova Scotian, pay my debts and there will be a living for you all. I have written a line to Thompson and Arthur who will not do less than what is right. Confide in James who will be a father to you. I cannot trust myself to write what I feel. You had my boyish heart, and have shared my love and entire confidence up to this hour. Heaven and ourselves only know the pure pleasures of the past—the future, for you and my dear babes might well unman me, and would, did I not feel that without a protector you could better face the world, than with one whose courage was suspected, and who was liable to continual insult which he could not resent. God in His infinite mercy bless you. There shall be no blood on my hand. Yours till death, Joseph Howe."

To the people of Nova Scotia he wrote:—" My friends,—During the political struggles in which I have been engaged, several attempts have been made to make me pay the penalty of life for the steady maintenance of my opinions. Hitherto Providence has spared my life, and without dishonour averted the necessity for an appeal to those laws which society has prescribed. This may not be the case always. Were my own feelings only to be consulted under the circumstances which may make the publication of this letter necessary, I might, and probably would, decline a contest, but well knowing that even a shadow of an imputation upon my moral courage, would incapacitate me for serving my country with vigour and success hereafter, I feel that I am bound to hazard my life rather than blight all prospects of being useful. If I fall, cherish the principles I have taught—forgive my errors—protect my children."

Howe was a man of broad sympathies, and no class—especially the weak and helpless—failed to Sir Rupert D. George's challenge :—

"Sir,—I called at your house with the intention of delivering the enclosed note from my friend Sir Rupert George, but finding you out have been obliged to send it under cover. I have only to request on his behalf that you will appoint a friend to make the contemplated arrangements as early as possible. I shall be at the Exchange Reading Room until six o'clock and again at half-past seven. I am, Sir, your obedient humble servant, John Spry Morris.—April 24th, 1840."

Enclosure:—

"Joseph Howe, Esq.—Sir: I have read your letter to the people of Nova Scotia and considering your observations with respect to myself to be insolent and offensive, I have requested my friend, Mr. Morris, to make the arrangments that have become necessary for the settlement of the affair between us. Your most obedient servant, Rupert D. George.—24th April."

"John Spry Morris, Esq.—Sir: Your note of this day's date, covering one from Sir Rupert D. George, has just reached me, and in reply to both I have to state that I see no occasion for my consulting any friend upon the subject of them, but at once, and without any hesitation, decline the hostile meeting to which they point.

"Having never had any personal quarrel with Sir Rupert George, I should certainly not fire at him if I went out, and I have no great fancy for being shot at, whenever public officers, whose abilities I may happen to contrast with their emoluments, think fit to consider political arguments and general illustrations 'insolent and offensive.' I am, sir, your obedient, humble servant, Joseph Howe."

Howe devoted a great deal of attention to the discharge of this work. He obtained data in respect to Indian reserves in the Crown lands' office. He had correspondence with not only the chiefs of the Indian tribes, but clergymen and others, chiefly Catholic priests who were interested in the Indian tribes in their vicinity. In the autumn of 1842 he made a tour of the province, visiting every Indian reserve and Indian camp from one end of the province to the other.

In the Nova Scotia archives a fairly good sized volume is preserved in manuscript, mostly in Howe's own handwriting, containing a detailed statement of all his labours and efforts on behalf of the Indians, and it affords extremely interesting reading. He appeared to enter with warm sympathy into the cause of the Micmac and he seems to have been wonderfully successful in winning his way into their confidence and regard. One passage from his report will serve to illustrate how broad were his sympathies and how easily he could adapt himself to the most unique circumstances :—

"A ride of ten miles further out on what is called the Liverpool road brought me to Charles Glode's farm. For the greater part of the way, though there is a struggling settlement of whites, this road is very indifferent, and for the last three miles there is only a wood path. As several lots had been laid off for Indians on my plan, I was in hopes to have found several families together. In this I was disappointed though some had chopped down a few acres. Either from the badness of the road, the distance from town, the stony character of the soil, or from all these causes combined, the others have strayed off to other, places without making any perceptible improvement. I reached Glode's camp some time after dark. He was absent on a hunting expedition and I was compelled to throw myself on the hospitality of his two daughters, young girls of twelve and fifteen, who in that remote situation, several miles from a habitation and surrounded by the wilderness, were left in possession of his worldly goods, and who, though the most perfect children of nature that I ever beheld, required some explanation and persuasion before they would lift the latch.

"Having won their confidence, watered and fed my horse, by the aid of birch bark torches, we got some herrings, potatoes and tea for supper. I spent a couple of hours in contrasting the not ungraceful but guileless simplicity of these young creatures with the active intelligence and prurient knowledge of things good and evil, so common among persons of the same age in the cultivated and more artificial state of existence I had left behind me.

"It was almost impossible to make conversation as we had so few topics in common and at last we lit a torch and fell to writing down Indian names with the corresponding English words, an exercise which seemed to interest my young friends very much."

Of course Howe ceased to be Indian commissioner when he retired from Lord Falkland's council in 1843, but he always took a warm interest in the Indian population, and to most of them he was as great a hero as he was indeed to the fellow-citizens of his own race.

In 1854 a bill was introduced into the Nova Scotia legislature by Mr. Johnston to prohibit the importation, manufacture and sale of all intoxicating drinks. Such measures are now common in both the federal and provincial legislatures. Usually statesmen hedge upon them and dispose of them by various subterfuges. Howe was opposed to prohibition and met the issue squarely in a speech of wonderful boldness and rare eloquence, every word of which would be read with interest, but only a few passages of which can be given. These, at all events, show that Howe did not shirk the issue, notwithstanding that the legislature had been flooded with petitions, and considerable interest had been excited on the question. He said in part:—

"The world has come down to the present period, from the most remote antiquity, with the wine cup in its hand. David, the man after God's own heart, drank wine. Solomon, the wisest of monarchs and of human beings, drank wine. Our Saviour not only drank it, but commanded Christians to drink it 4 in remembrance of Him.' In strong contrast with our Divine Redeemer's life and practice we hear of the Scribes and Pharisees, who drank it not—who reviled our Saviour as a 'wine bibber,' and the 'companion of publicans and sinners,' who would have voted for the Maine liquor law as unanimously as they cried, ' Crucify Him.' ... So far as my reading extends, I may assert that every king, every statesman, every warrior who has illustrated the page of history, drank wine. The apostles who were the companions of our Saviour, drank it. The prophets, whose flights of inspiration still astonish us, we have every reason to believe, drank it. Cicero and Demosthenes, and all the orators of antiquity and of modern times, indulged in the juice of the grape. Who can say how much of the energy which gave them such power of language was drawn from its inspiration ? Have these men been eclipsed by the Dows and Kellogs of the platform? What orators has the state of Maine sent forth comparable with the Pitts, Burkes, Grattans, Foxes, and Sheridans of the British Islands, every one of whom drank wine? Let the learned gentleman glance at the noble structures—the architectural wonders that embellish Europe. Who reared them? Men of gigantic intellects whose common beverage was wine. Let his eye range through the noble galleries where the sculptors have left their statues ; where the painters have hung in rich profusion the noblest works of art. Wine, we are told, clouds the faculties and deadens the imagination. Yet it was drunk by those benefactors of their race ; and we cannot, with their masterpieces before us, believe the assertion, till their works have been eclipsed by artists trained up under this rigorous legislation. Has Maine turned out as yet a statue that anybody would look at; a picture that anybody would buy? Look at the deliverers of mankind; the heroic defenders of nations. Was Washington a member of the temperance society? Did not Wallace 'drink the red wine through the helmet barred?' Who will undertake to say that Bruce, on the morning on which he won the battle of Bannockburn,—that Tell, on that day when he shot the apple off his son's head, had not tasted a glass of whiskey or a stoop of wine?

"If then, sir, all that is valuable in the past—if heroism, and architecture, and oratory, sculpture and painting—if all that has bulwarked freedom and embellished life—has come down to us with the juice of the grape; if no age or nation has been long without it, I think it behooves the advocates of this bill to show us some country where their system has been tried; some race of men who drank nothing but cold water."

Allusion has been made to one visit of Mr. Howe's to the United States on an unpleasant mission and with unfortunate results, but it must be understood that he was not an infrequent visitor to American cities and was everywhere a welcome guest. In 1851 a great festival was held in Boston to celebrate the completion of railway communication with the West, and British America was represented by the governor-general, Lord Elgin, Mr. Hincks and Mr. Howe. The occasion was honoured with the presence of the president of the United States and some of the most eminent men in the union, including Edward Everett, Josiah Quincy and others. Howe spoke on behalf of British America in the same elevated strain which characterized all his speeches. He visited Boston again in July, 1857, and at the city celebration in Faneuil Hall, responded to the toast "The Queen of Great Britain," in the course of which he paid the following tribute to Edward Everett:—

"You are indeed fortunate in the possession of a man who gives to our land's language its strength unimpaired by the highest embellishment The Indian draws from the maple the bow wherewith he kills his game, and the sap with which he sweetens his repast. Mr. Everett draws from the same large growth and cultivation, the arguments by which he sustains the great reputation and great interests of his country, and the honeyed accents which give to scenes like this the sweet cement of social life. The ancients

'Threw pearls of great price in their goblets of gold, When to those that they honoured they quaffed.'

He melts into our cup the rich ingots of his imagination, and every man who listens to him is intellectually richer for the draught."

Another passage alludes to the relations between Britain and the United States:—

"England is no longer the harsh mother against whom that old indictment was filed. She is founding new provinces every day, training them in the practice of freedom and in the arts of life; and, when they are prepared for self-government, she does not force them into declarations of independence, but gracefully concedes to them the right to make their own constitutions, and to change and modify them from time to time. We North Americans may have had our grievances in the olden time. We may have had our own contests with besotted statesmen and absurd systems, but now we are as free as you. We .govern ourselves as completely as any of your independent states. We have universal suffrage and responsible government. You may sometimes have to endure a bad administration for four years ; we can overthrow a bad one by a single resolution, on any day of the year when our parliaments are in session. Think of us then, as we really are, your equals in many respects; your rivals, it may be, in all things honourable, but ever your brethren, your friends, your neighbours."

A little later Howe was a guest at the Democratic festival at the Revere House, and responded to a toast, "Our mother country," in a speech equally brilliant and pleasing.

In 1865 a great convention of the boards of trade and chambers of commerce of the United States was held at Detroit, to which representative men from all the cities of British North America were invited. The purpose of the convention was to consider the question of fiscal relations between the United States and British North America in view of the fact that notice had been given of the termination of the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854-66. It was one of the greatest gatherings of a commercial character that has taken place on this continent, and such eminent Americans as the Hon. Hannibal Hamlin, Vice-President of the United States, and from Canada such men as the Hon. Messrs. Holton, Flint, Gibbs, Buchanan, Leonard, Sir Hugh Allan, Peter Red-path ; the Hon. Messrs. Fisher, Botsford and Steeves, of New Brunswick, and other eminent men from all parts of North America gathered together. Two resolutions were adopted by the convention. One was approving of the action of the United States in giving notice of the termination of the treaty, and the other was a resolution requesting the president of the United States to enter into negotiations with the government of Great Britain, having in view the execution of a treaty between the two countries for reciprocity of commercial intercourse between the United States and the several provinces of British North America, which should be just and equitable to both parties. Howe was one of the delegates from Halifax to this convention, and spoke upon this resolution. His speech so far excelled the other addresses that it became the one great' feature of the convention, and the Detroit convention itself is remembered now chiefly on account of this address. It so impressed the delegates that at the conclusion of one of its finest periods, the vast gathering rose en masse and gave three cheers. He gave a clear statement of the incidents which had led to reciprocity, the mutual advantages which had accrued from its operation, and the special and superior advantages derived from its provisions by the people of the United States. He pleaded for a broad and generous policy in respect to this subject, but at the same time, in eloquent terms, he told the citizens of the United States that the people of British North America could never be lured from their allegiance or forced by any commercial pressure into an abandonment of their regard for the empire. The speech remains as one of the noblest expositions, by a statesman of either country, of the true relations which exist between the United States and Canada.

Prince Edward Island had, from almost its earliest settlement, suffered from the consequences of improvident grants of large areas of land to private holders, by which settlers were deprived of the titles to their lands and the country was kept in perpetual agitation on the question of land monopolies and quit rents. After much correspondence between the government of the island, the proprietors and the colonial secretary, it was at last arranged that the whole matter of difference between the proprietors and the tenants should be left to the arbitrament of three commissioners, one to be appointed by Her Majesty's government, one by the legislature of Prince Edward Island as representing the tenants, and the third by the proprietors. On the acceptance of this proposition by the legislature of Prince Edward Island, the Hon. Joseph Howe was unanimously chosen to represent the tenants on the commission. The Hon. John Hamilton Gray, of New Brunswick, was appointed to represent the imperial government, and John W. Ritchie, Esquire, an eminent lawyer (and afterwards judge), of Nova Scotia, to represent the proprietors. These commissioners opened their court at Charlottetown on September 5th, 1860, and heard counsel representing the various parties, and took a large volume of evidence. They subsequently traversed the island from end to end, examining minutely into the circumstances and conditions of all portions of the province affected. They then made a report extremely full, and dealing in an exhaustive manner with every phase of the dispute, and made an award which should have been satisfactory to all parties concerned. It was satisfactory to the government and people of Prince Edward Island, and an act was at once adopted by the legislature of Prince Edward Island giving legal effect to the award. This act, however, was disallowed by the Crown, on the advice of the colonial secretary, upon whom must rest the responsibility of having, by a narrow and illiberal policy, postponed the settlement of this acute question for more than ten years.


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