of Canada and New York. The line, as far as it appears by the map, is very distinct. The objection I have is precisely what the honourable gentleman has mentioned. I am not clear whether there are not upon the south-east part of the river St. Lawrence Canadian settlements. I have been informed there are. I am sure there are no New York settlements in that part of the world. I think it more prudent to have the boundary line settled upon the spot; reserving, in the act, all those lands that have been granted, under any authority, to the old settlers. If any line can be drawn, I have no doubt the Canadians will prefer their own laws. At first sight, I have no objection to the words proposed, and, if the honourable gentleman desires it, I shall also not object to the witness being called in, nor indeed to any evidence, not likely to involve us in difficulties, that may be calculated to settle a distinct line for the security of the province. It is my opinion, that all this uninhabited country added to Canada, or added to New York, should not be immediately considered as country which the government are to grant away. I do not think that we at all endeavour to discourage settlements, by making those regulations. I hope there will be great caution and restriction on the part of governors against making grants in this western country. The necessity of settling the government goes upon other principles, which I shall have occasion to enter into in the course of the debate; but at present I rise up to confirm the declaration I have made, that if a clear line can be made to the satisfaction of gentlemen, so that they are not likely to involve themselves by drawing a line in Westminster which would be better drawn in America, I shall not opiniatre it, but shall be very thankful to the gentleman who can draw that line.
Mr. EDMUND BURKE.—I shall satisfy the noble lord that there is no inconvenience in the world in drawing this line; no injustice in the world to the Canadians; more injustice in drawing an imaginary line, that may involve the whole colony of New York in confusion. I should be extremely tender of the privilege of the subject; and therefore I would not disturb any man living in his property. But the fact is, that no man is injured by what I propose; but by what the noble lord proposes, if Canada is in future to have boundaries determined by the choice of the Crown, the Crown is to have the power of putting a great part of the subjects of England under laws, which are not the laws of England. The government of France is good—all government is good—but, compared with the English government, that of France is slavery. We have shed oceans of blood for that government, and are ready, I hope, to shed oceans of blood again for it. Upon the noble lord's proposition, half the colony of New York may be adjudged, and some of it must be adjudged, to belong to the colony of Canada. The fate of forty or fifty thousand souls is involved in this question. At present the colony of New York is the Crown's. The noble lord may adjudge it to belong to Pennsylvania; but he cannot deprive it of the laws of England. Now, however, by an act of parliament, he is going to do so. The Crown has the power, at a stroke, to reduce that country to slavery. It is the power of a magical word; which I hope I shall
never see any where exercised but in the playhouses. This is a possible case; the other is certain—that a few Frenchmen may happen to be considered as Englishmen. The noble lord does not suppose there are many. The parties here are English liberty and French law; and the whole province of New York, further than it is defined by actual bound, is in the power of the Crown, not to adjudicate, but to grant, and hand over to the French. I do not suppose, if the Crown were under the necessity of adjudging, that it would adjudge amiss; but it is in the power of the Crown to grant even its power of adjudging. When put on the English side, they are put in the power of the laws; when put on the French side, they are put out of the power of the laws. Let us consider, then? whether it is not worth while to give a clear boundary, and to let man know whether he is or is not an Englishman. I shall take the sense of the committee upon it. I am as much in earnest as ever I was in my life. I have produced a practical idea—I can produce practical words.
After a long and desultory conversation, the words proposed by Mr. Burke were inserted. The words—
“Until it strike the Ohio; and along the bank of the said river, westward to the banks of the Mississippi, and northward, to the southern boundary of the territory granted to the Merchants Adventurers of England trading to Hudson's Bay; and also all such territories, islands, and countries, which have, since the 10th of February, 1763, been made part of the government of Newfoundland, be, and they are hereby, during his Majesty's pleasure, annexed to, and made part and parcel of the province of Quebec.”
—were next read.
Sir CHARLES SAUNDERS.¹—I rise to say a few words upon this part of the clause. Though I dislike the whole of it, I shall speak only to that part which relates to the fishery. Your annexing the liberty of fishing to Canada, will take the fishery from the mother country; will take it to America. That part carried on by Canada must go to the French, and thereby be very detrimental to this country. In the first place, no return is ever made here; in the next place, you lose the employing of your own shipping, the furnishing the men with materials, and breeding your seamen. The liberty of fishing should remain under the inspection of the governor of Newfoundland. The act of King William is the best for the fishery: if you give up this, I am afraid you will lose your breed of seamen, and I know no way that this country has of breeding seamen but two; one the fishery, and the other the coasting trade. All other trade is at the expense of men, and whatever hurts your fishery must reduce the naval force of this country. Sir, the fishery is worth more to you, than all the possessions you have put together. Without that fishery your possessions are not safe; nor are you safe in your own country.
¹ This distinguished naval commander was, at this time, member for Heydon. He died in the following year, and was interred in Westminster Abbey, near the monument of his friend and “brother of the war,” General Wolfe.
Instead of doing anything to hurt your fishery, new methods should be taken to rear more seamen. God knows, how much you'll find the want of seamen, whenever this country finds it necessary to equip its fleets! For these reasons, I am against annexing the liberty of fishing to Canada, and I hope that this clause, for this reason, will not pass.
Mr. GASCOYNE.—I agree with the honourable admiral; but I do not conceive, from what I have learned, that the liberty of fishing given in the clause has anything to do with that sort of fishery the honourable admiral means. They are sedentary fishers, taking seals and sea-cows. It does not appear, that there is any cod fishery along that coast.
Mr. PRESCOT.¹—As I have, in the course of business, some knowledge of the question before the House, I can take upon me to say, that the honourable gentleman who spoke last is mistaken. From the first conquest of the coast, there were several cod-fisheries near the strait of Belleisle. Whether they are continued I cannot say, but I believe they are. A relation of mine, much concerned in the fishery, a Captain Darby, was examined by the board of trade in my presence. The French may possibly have interfered with us. It may become a valuable fishery. The evidence was, that the fish was of a better kind, and ought to be encouraged for the Spanish market. It would be better to unite this fishery to the government of Newfoundland. We ought to discourage carrying on the fishery of the continent of America with Europe; as it gives rise to a great deal of contraband trade.
Sir CHARLES SAUNDERS.—I should not have troubled the committee, if I had not been sure of what I said. We have had a man-of-war there, ever since that country has been put under the inspection of the governor of Newfoundland; who has settled all disputes, agreeably to the act passed in the reign of King William; and that is the reason I mentioned that act.
Lord NORTH.—If the consequence stated by the honourable gentlemen is likely to ensue, and there is no method of preventing it, undoubtedly it is a consideration of most serious importance. But this liberty of fishery was grounded upon two points, and for two reasons: the first and principal reason was justice; the other was the nature of the fishery, which is supposed to be peculiar to the fishery of that coast. When Canada was conquered, and Montreal surrendered upon capitulation—while the inhabitants of Canada were secured in their property, there were at that time grants for fishing for seals and sea-cows; which grants were profitable to the Canadians, and were as much secured to them as any other species of property. They let the fishing-coast from time to time upon lease. These expired about the year 1762, and new leases were granted. The seal and sea-cow fishery was, I understand, entirely sedentary; carried on in the little creeks between the coast and the island. It is a sort of decoy for fish. It is a decoy that requires
¹ George Prescot, esq., of Theobald's, in the county of Herts; grandfather of the present Sir George Prescot, and founder of the banking-house of Prescot, Grote and Co.
all the nicety, all the care, all the silence possible. The trade cannot be carried on by competition. It must be carried on separately and distinctly, or the fishery will be ruined. It requires all the people to go away at a certain time in September, and return in December; and therefore it must be carried on by persons who stay there in the winter. The ship fishers, I mean those who go from this country to that, have been permitted to fish in different harbours; but the competition almost entirely destroyed the fishery. It is therefore obvious, that this fishery cannot be carried on in the manner of the Newfoundland fishery, and consequently cannot be subject to the laws of that fishery. This was the reason for inserting this clause; but if it has a tendency to destroy the cod fishery, and diminish our stock of seamen, it ought not to stand in the bill. I do not, however, conceive that giving this right to the inhabitants of Labrador will have any such effect.
Captain PHIPPS.—Let us consider, Sir, whether it be politic to suffer this cod fishery on the coast of Labrador to be in the hands of the Canadians. The consequence will be, that the French will be received in Canada with open arms; that they will carry their manufactures thither; and that an intimate intercourse will be kept up between the two countries, to the great injury of the English settlers. They will also have opportunities of stirring up discontents among the Indians. All this shews the necessity of another bill, placing these fisheries under the government of Newfoundland. As far as my little experience in my profession goes, I do not hesitate to declare, that this clause, while it will be one of the severest blows this country ever met with, will be one of the most material benefits that ever accrued to France.
Mr. COOPER.—It is not the intent of this clause to protect the sedentary fishery to the injury of the other. Suppose, therefore, a proviso were added, that nothing in this act should extend to prevent the government of Newfoundland &c. If I am rightly informed, the cod fishing is not carried on at the same time. If so, it may be fixed at a season which shall not interrupt that carried on in the same situation by the sedentary fishers. As to the condition of our navy, I have the satisfaction of stating, that the number of seamen has greatly increased of late years.
Capt. PHIPPS.—It is impossible to carry on the sedentary fishing, without a property on the waterside. The clause will destroy the right of those who come to try for fish there, and will occasion endless disputes. If any sedentary fishing is necessary, it ought to be put under the government of St. John's. The mischiefs that may arise from this clause should be frequently rung in your ears, until they make an impression upon you.
Mr. PRESCOT.—The cod fishery and the seal fishery are carried on upon the same coast. It is usual for them to leave some of their people there in the winter. It is for the interest of this country, that they should be detached from the government of Canada; they should, therefore, have a government to protect them in winter as well as in summer.
Mr. BYNG.—We have heard a great deal of the small number of Protestants in Canada. That is one reason why the sedentary fisheries should be put under the government of Newfoundland; for unless that is done, we are handing more of our people over to the Canadian laws.
Lord NORTH.—The last alarm is not well founded. The British may and will carry on the fishery to Canada. The law they are under at present is rather more arbitrary than the Canadian law.
Sir CHARLES SAUNDERS.—I do not see how it is possible to carry on the fishery there. Where are the disputes to be decided? At Quebec? The distance of the fishery from Quebec is so great, that the loss of time and the expence would ruin any fishery in the world; whereas the governor of Newfoundland, upon any dispute arising, can settle it in half-an-hour; neither time, trouble, nor expence, is lost; immediately they go to work again. I never knew a trial to last half-an-hour in my life.
Lord JOHN CAVENDISH.—I do not know the question at present. No question has been put upon the clause. I hope we are not quite ready to agree to it. This whole description of Canada goes very much against my judgment. I will, however, say a few words to the particular clause. The remedy proposed seems to fall short of the necessity of the case. I think this proviso would not reach the point. I believe the only pretence the governor of Newfoundland had for extending his authority there, was, that by the proclamation this coast was put under his direction; but when this authority shall be withdrawn by an act of parliament, he will have nothing to do with it. It will be left to doubt. The seal fishery had better be provided for by itself, than that this great nursery of our seamen should be endangered.
Mr. THOMAS TOWNSHEND, jun.—This, Sir, is undoubtedly a very material part of the bill, and we have had both sides of the question stated to us. The honourable admiral has told us, that that great nursery of British seamen will be in much danger from the passing of this clause. The noble lord on the other side, and the honourable secretary of the treasury, have not denied any one of the assertions which have come from the gentlemen of the navy, and from the honourable member concerned in the trade under the gallery. The noble lord has obliged the committee with a very agreeable description of the seal fishery; he has told you a great deal of the animal itself. He says, that the decoy requires great nicety and care, and all the silence possible, and therefore he proposes, that Frenchmen not being noisy, not being loquacious, it is better to trust that fishery to them, than leave it to the English. The honourable secretary to the treasury has congratulated the country upon the great increase of seamen, which he attributed to the favourable state of the Newfoundland fishery. Sir, I believe the seal fishery has been carried on by the French since the peace; now, from the very nature of the sedentary fishery, if once they are established there, if once they have a property in the stations, they must have the refusal of the market; they