Duncan Campbell's History of Prince Edward Island - Ch. 5


Governor Ready desires to govern constitutionally - Energetic legislation - George Wright, Administrator - Change in the mode of paying Customhouse Officials - Fire in Miramichi - Petitions of Roman Catholic's to be relieved from civil disabilities - Proceedings of the Assembly touching the question - Dispute between the Council and Emancipation - The Agricultural Society - Death of George the Fourth - Cobbett on Prince Edward Island - Colonel Ready succeeded by A. W. Young - The Census - Death of Governor Young - Biographical Sketch of him.

GOVERNOR SMITH delighted in autocratical rule, and had not called an assembly together since 1820; but Governor Ready, wishing to govern the island in a more constitutional manner, summoned on his accession to office, a new house which met in January, 1825, and proceeded to business with some degree of spirit and earnestness. Acts were passed for the encouragement of education, for regulating juries and declaring their qualifications, for regulating the fisheries, for limiting and declaring the jurisdiction of justices of the peace, for empowering the governor to appoint commissioners to issue treasury notes to the extent of five thousand pounds, and for increasing the revenue by taxation. Another session of the house was held in October of the same year, when the house displayed equal energy and diligence in transacting the public business. John Stewart was speaker, and the members elected for Charlottetown were Robert Hodgson and Paul Mabey. Mr. Samuel Nelson was an unsuccessful candidate for the town. He had been accused of not signing the address to the King, praying for he recall of Governor Smith. In his reply to that charge, Mr. Nelson stated a fact which shows the

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inherent meanness of' the late governor in his treatment of the people. "Governor Smith," said Mr. Nelson, "never did anything for me. On the contrary, he broke me as a captain in the militia, and when I was putting a porch to my door he sent a peremptory demand to pull it away."

The governor returned to England towards the close of the year, on private business, and during his absence the government was administered by the Honorable George Wright.

The officers of customs received in this year official instructions from the lords commissioners to discontinue the exaction of fees after the fifth of January ensuing, as fixed salaries were to be granted to them, - a regulation which extended to all the colonies.

In this year, eighteen vessels arrived at the island from Great Britain, and one hundred and twenty-eight from the British colonies. There were imported fifty-four thousand gallons of rum, two thousand five hundred gallons of brandy, three thousand gallons Geneva, and two thousand gallons of wine, which, for a population of about twenty-three thousand, was a large supply. The imports were valued at £85,337, and the exports at £95,426.

In the autumn of 1825 an extensive and most destructive fire took place in Miramichi, which swept over an immense area, destroying timber, farm steadings, and cattle. Many of the unfortunate inhabitants perished in the flames, and hundreds were left destitute. A liberal collection was made in the island for the relief of the suffering, and a vessel chartered to convey produce to the scene of the disaster.

The governor returned from England towards the close of the year 1826, and again assumed the reins of government. The house met in March following. In his opening address, the governor congratulated the house on the improvements re-

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cently made in the internal communications of the country,- the western line of road being completed up to Princetown, and surveys having been made for extending the line to Cascumpec and the North Cape. His excellency also referred to the advantages which would accrue from the establishment of an agricultural society. Among other useful measures passed during the session was one for ascertaining the population of the island, and for authorizing the formation of a fire engine company for Charlottetown.

During the last session, a petition was presented by the Roman catholics of the island, praying that they should be relieved from those civil disabilities under which they suffered. Consideration of the important subject was at that time deferred on account of the advanced period of the session. The subject was now brought up by Mr. Cameron, in a temperate and sensible speech, in which he stated that, notwithstanding the predictions of persons hostile to the prayer of the petitioners, not a single petition was presented to the house against the proposed change. Mr. Cameron concluded by proposing the following resolution: "Resolved, that, it is the opinion of this house that the right of voting at elections of members to serve in the general assembly ought to be extended to His Majesty's subjects of the Roman catholic religion within the island, and that the election laws should be altered conformable to this resolution." A long and animated discussion took place, in which the attorney general, Dr. McAulay, Mr. Hodgson, and others supported it; and Mr. Campbell, Mr. McNeil, and Mr. Montgomery led in opposition. On the question being put, the votes were equal; but the speaker, Mr. Stewart, gave the casting vote against the resolution, on the ground that the question had not been settled in England. The speaker was one of the most enlightened men in the assembly, and

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his decision on this occasion cannot be said to have been in accordance with his general character. Had the resolution passed, the assembly would have had the honor of being in advance, on this question, of the parliament of Great Britain. As subjects of the Crown, the Roman catholics, in asking to have a voice in the election of the legislature, - whose laws they were bound to obey in common with protestants, - claimed no favor, but a right which ought never to have been withheld, and the subsequent concession of which experience has proved to be as satisfactory in practice as it is equitable in principle. On the presentation of the petition in l825, a voluminous and very able correspondence was carried on in the columns of the Register, in the conduct of which the best talent in the island, on both the catholic and protestant sides, was enlisted. Theological questions, that had no bearing on the subject in dispute, were, unhappily, imported into the controversy; and, whatever difference of opinion may exist as to the discussion in its religious aspect, there can be none as to the fact of every argument advanced against the Roman catholic's right to be put on an equal footing with the protestant in all matters appertaining to civil and religious liberty, being completely demolished by the accomplished advocates of the Roman catholic claims. While the elaborate communications to which we have referred were imbued on both sides with considerable bitterness, yet, to the credit of the island combatants, it may be truly said that such bitterness was sweetness itself compared with the venom characteristic of similar controversies, as carried on at this period in other places. Fidelity to historical accuracy, at the same time, constrains us to state that, while on the part of catholics, as the aggrieved party, whose rights were tyranically and persistently disregarded, paroxysms of irritation were the natural

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result of oppression, no such apology can to the same extent be offered in behalf of their opponents.

In October, 1825, the council passed a resolution to the effect that they would not in future be disposed to give their assent to any bill for appropriating money, unless the sums and services therein contained should be submitted in separate resolutions for their concurrence. This resolution was not agreeable to the assembly, who claimed the sole right of originating all money bills, and who denied the right of the council to alter or amend them. This difference of opinion led to a protracted controversy. In May, 1827, the council sent a message to the assembly, in which the question was elaborately argued, to which the assembly returned an equally elaborate reply. The dispute resulted, in 1827, in the council agreeing to the two principal bills of supply, and rejecting an ad valorem duty bill; but in the following session - that of 1828 - the appropriation bill was rejected by the council, which obliged the governor to confine the expenditure of the year to purposes of necessity. In meeting the house, in 1829, the governor expressed the hope that the unfortunate dispute of the last session would be brought to an amicable adjustment, and recommended a system of mutual compromise as the most effectual mode of securing that object. Although the council had resolved to transact no further business with the assembly until the latter body expunged a previous resolution from their journals containing certain imputations on the council, yet the house had refused to do so. Business communication was, however, resumed, and continued as if nothing had happened.

On the sixth of January, 1825, died Benjamin Chappell, late postmaster of the island, in the eighty-seventh year of his age. lie and his brother William emigrated from England in the year 1775. They owned one of the first packets

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that sailed between Charlottetown and the mainland. He saw the country in its rude and wilderness state, and was an attentive observer of all the vicissitudes it underwent in its gradual progress towards improvement, and few took a deeper interest in its prosperity. He was a man of sterling piety, actively devoted to the cause of religion, and may with truth be considered the founder of the present Methodist establishment of the island. He was personally known and beloved by John Wesley, who was in the habit of corresponding with him for many years; and it afforded Mr. Chappell much delight to detail to his friends many interesting anecdotes that grew out of his intimacy with that great and good man. He was brought up to the millwright business, and was well acquainted with machinery in all its extensive branches. He was a man of intelligence and strong mind, and, with a perfect knowledge of his own business, possessed a great deal of useful information. If a life of consistent piety, as expressed in the virtues that dignify human nature, can endear a man to society, the memory of Benjamin Chappell will be long and affectionately cherished in the island.

In the session of 1829 a select committee of assembly, for preparing a specific plan on which a bill might be founded for promoting classical education, presented their report, recommending the establishment of a classical academy in Charlottetown, to be designated the "Central Academy," vesting the management in a patron and nine trustees. Two masters were to be employed, each to receive a salary of one hundred and fifty pounds a year; and no religious test was to be permitted. A bill in conformity with these recommendations was accordingly introduced and sanctioned.

The most important act passed in the session of 1830 was one "for the relief of His Majesty's Roman catholic sub-

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jects" The agitation for the removal of the disabilities under which the Roman catholics suffered in the old country resulted in catholic emancipation; and the British government recommended the adoption of similar measures in the colonies, which recommendation weakened unreasonable opposition to the change. The act now passed provided that all statutes which imposed on Roman catholics civil or political disabilities should be repealed, and that all civil and military offices and places of trust or profit should be as open to them as to other portions of the King's subjects.

The agricultural society, which had been for some time in operation in the island, was active in accomplishing the beneficent purposes for which it was established: it encouraged improved stock by an annual exhibition and premiums, and imported seeds. District societies were formed at Saint Eleanor's and Princetown. The governor took a practical interest in the operations of the society, of which the Honorable George Wright was president; the Honorable T. H. Haviland, vice-president; and Mr. Peter MacGowan, secretary and treasurer.

In August, 1830, intelligence of the death of King George the Fourth, which had occurred on the twenty-sixth of June, reached the island. The reign of His Majesty lasted about ten years and a half; but, including his regency, he was at the head of the government more than nineteen years. He was succeeded by William the Fourth.

The ignorance which in our days prevails in the old country respecting the American colonies is not quite so deplorable as that which existed at the period of the island history at which we have now arrived. It may amuse the reader to learn what the celebrated Cobbett thought at this time of Prince Edward Island, as a home for emigrants, and of the kind of business that was prosecuted there: "From Glasgow," wrote Cobbett, "the sensible Scots are

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pouring out amain. Those that are poor, and cannot pay their passage, or can rake together only a trifle, are going to a rascally heap of sand, rock and swamp, called Prince Edward Island, in the horrible Gulf of Saint Lawrence; but when the American vessels come over with indian corn and flour and pork and beef and poultry and eggs and butter, and cabbages, and green pease [sic], and asparagus for the soldier, and other tax-eaters that we support upon that lump of worthlessness, - for the lump itself bears nothing but potatoes, - when these vessels return, the sensible Scots will go back in them for a dollar a head, and not a man of them will be left but bed-ridden persons." If such are the doctrines which were taught to the people of Britain by men like Cobbett, what must have been the depth of ignorance respecting the North American colonies which pervaded the masses? The very articles which the islanders were prepared to export to the states, if an inlet for them were permitted, were the articles which the foolish grammarian imagined they were importing. He little thought that in the capital of this island of "rock" a cargo of whinstones would be very acceptable, and find ready sale.

In September, 1831, Colonel Ready was relieved from the government of the island by the arrival of Lieutenant-Colonel A. W. Young. The departure of Colonel Ready was deeply regretted by the people. His administration was distinguished by activity, energy, and usefulness, constituting a striking contrast to that of his predecessor. During his retention of office there was a large increase of the population. From the year 1829 to 1831, eighteen hundred and forty-four emigrants had arrived, and new life was infused into the commerce and agriculture of the island.

In January, 1832, Governor Young met the house of assembly for the first time. There was a dread of cholera, now raging in Europe, which led to the passing of a measure

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in the assembly "to prevent the spread of infectious diseases." A day of fasting was appointed in the month of May, and, happily, the island was not visited by a pestilence which, in other places, laid tens of thousands in the grave. In this year an act was also passed to provide for the conveyance of the mails between Charlottetown and Pictou, by a steam vessel, a grant of three hundred pounds yearly having been voted for that purpose. The service was accordingly performed by the Steamer Pocahontas, which ran twice a week to Pictou, - the cabin passage-money being twelve shillings currency. In the following year the census was taken, from which it appeared that the population of the island, which, in 1827, had been twenty-three thousand, had increased to thirty-two thousand. An act was also passed in this year by which the duration of the assembly was reduced from the period of seven to that of four years.

In May, 1834, Governor Young went to England, whence he returned in September, as Sir Aretas W. Young. In June of the same year died John Stewart, of Mount Stewart, at the age of seventy-six. He came to the Island in 1778. He was speaker of the house of assembly for a number of years, and was one of the most useful public men of his day. We have read much of his private and official correspondence, which has led us to form a high opinion of his integrity, industry, and zeal. His book on the island, published in 1806, is a reliable work, so far as facts are concerned, though not written with the grace and freedom which, distinguished the letters of his contemporary, John Stuart, the London agent of the island.

A general election took place towards the close of 1834, and the new house met in January, 1835. A dispute arose between the assembly and the council, respecting the revenue bills, which led to the necessary supplies not being granted,

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but after a short interval the governor convoked the assembly in April, and as the result of a previous informal conference between the disputants, it was arranged that the revenue bill should be separated from the appropriation bill, - as a solution of the difficulty, - and thus the dispute terminated. In consequence of the illness of his excellency, the session of one week's duration was prorogued by a commission, who were desired to express to the assembly his excellency's pleasure at the satisfactory termination of its labors.

On Tuesday, the first of December, 1835, His Excellency Sir Aretas William Young died at his official residence in Charlottetown. At the age of seventeen he obtained an ensigncy, by purchase, in Podmore's regiment, and a company, by purchase, in the 13th foot, in 1796. He served with the 13th regiment, in Ireland during the rebellion, and was present with that corps, under the command of Sir Charles Colville, in every memorable action fought in Egypt under the gallant Sir Ralph Abercrombie, in 1801, for which he received a medal. He was subsequently employed for several years in Sicily and Gibralter [sic], as aide-de-camp to General the Honorable Henry Edward Cox, the commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean. He was promoted, in 1807, to be major in the 97th regiment, then commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir James Lyon, and served with the 4th division, under Lieutenant-General Sir Lowry Cole, in the Peninsular campaigns of 1808, and in subsequent years was engaged in the battles of Vimiera, Talavera and Busaco, and in the first siege of Badajoz. Whenever the division was in movement, the light companies were entrusted to his charge, and during a part of the retreat of the army from the frontiers of Portugal to the lines of Torres Vedras, these companies were embodied under his command as a light battalion.

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In an affair with the enemy at Tobral, near Lisbon, his horse was shot dead under him; and it has been remarked by a distinguished general officer that, on every occasion, in every difficulty and in many hours of trial, the example he set, the steps he trod, led the men cheerfully and fearlessly to their duty. The 97th, owing to its thinned ranks, having been ordered to England, he was promoted, in 1813, to a lieutenant-colonel in the 3rd West India Regiment, stationed at Trinidad; and, with five companies of that corps, was sent to join the expedition against Guadaloupe in 1815, and received one of the badges of the Order of Merit, presented by Louis the Eighteenth. On his return to Trinidad, he was selected by Sir James Leith to command the troops in Granada; and, on leaving the regiment in 1815, received a letter, accompanied with a piece of plate, from the officers, expressive of their unfeigned feelings of regard and esteem for the comfort and happiness experienced under his command. On his being ordered back to Trinidad, in 1816, he was voted the thanks of the council and assembly of Granada, with a sword valued at one hundred guineas. During the absence, in 1820, of Governor Sir Ralph Woodford from Trinidad, he administered the government for four months; and in consideration of the advantage which the community had derived during that period by his being a member of the council, was requested still to continue a member, - to which he acceded, subject to the approval of the commander of the forces, who, in giving his consent, remarked, that in whatever situation Lieut.-colonel Young might be placed, the public service would be benefited. In 1823, in again giving up the government, which he had held for two years, - during a second absence of the same governor, - he was presented with four addresses, namely, one from the council, one from the Board of Cabildo, - with a

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vote of one hundred and fifty guineas to purchase a sword, and with the request that he would sit for his portrait, to he placed in their hall as a token of their sense of the efficient manner in which he had presided over that board, and to record their opinion of the moderation, steadiness, and ability which, on all occasions, marked his administration; one from the inhabitants, with a piece of plate, to record their gratitude for the integrity and impartiality of his government; and one from the colored inhabitants, acknowledging their deep sense of the prudence, moderation, and humanity which distinguished his administration of the government.

On the final disbandment of the 3d West India Regiment, in the beginning of 1825, he was waited on by a deputation of the inhabitants of Trinidad, with a farewell address, and with the request of his acceptance of a piece of plate of the value of two hundred and fifty sovereigns. He was appointed in 1826 to the newly-created office of His Majesty's Protector of Slaves in the colony of Demerara, - the arduous duties of which he conscientiously performed for five years. He retired from the army, by the sale of his commission, in May, 1826, and was allowed by His Majesty, on the recommendation of the commander-in-chief, to retain the local rank of lieutenant-colonel in the West Indies, in consideration of the value of his services and of the zeal, intelligence, and gallantry with which he had discharged every duty. He was gazetted, as already stated, to be governor of Prince Edward Island, on the twenty-fifth of July, 1851; and in consequence of the favorable opinion entertained by the King of his merits, communicated in a despatch from Lord Stanley, His Majesty conferred on him, on the ninth of July, 1834, the honor of knighthood.

At the period of his death he was in the fifty-eighth year of his age, and had thus terminated an honorable career of forty-one years in the King's service.

Chapter End

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History of Prince Edward Island

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