Ch The New Immigrants Deceived

Arrival of the Prince of Wales--His Reception--The British

Colonial Secretary expresses satisfaction with the Assembly's

proceedings in regard to the Land Commission--The Report of the

Commissioners--Its cardinal points presented--Their views with

regard to Escheat and other subjects--The case of the Loyalists

and Indians. Remarks on the Report: its merits and its defects.

The evils incident to
he Land Question fundamentally

attributable to the Home Government--The Immigrants deceived--The

misery consequent on such deception--The burden of correction

laid on the wrong shoulders--Volunteer Companies--General

Census--Death of Prince Albert--The Duke of Newcastle and the

Commissioners' Report.

The Prince of Wales having, in compliance with an invitation from the

Canadian parliament, resolved to visit British North America, he was

invited by the authorities to pay a visit to Prince Edward Island.

Having signified his intention of doing so, suitable preparations were

made for his reception. His Royal Highness having proceeded to

Newfoundland, and thence to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, he, after a

short stay in these colonies, arrived in Charlottetown, in the ship

Hero, on Thursday, the tenth of August, about twelve o'clock, m. On

the Hero swinging to her anchors, the lieutenant governor, attended by

Colonel Gray, stepped into a barge and proceeded on board the ship.

After a short interval, his excellency returned, and intimated that the

royal party would disembark in half an hour. The governor received His

Royal Highness as he stepped on the pier, and, in the name of the

colonists, welcomed him to the island. The governor then presented the

mayor to the Prince, and the recorder and city council, collectively. A

guard of honor, consisting of a detachment of the 62nd regiment, and a

body of volunteers, lined the way from the landing place to the royal

carriage, into which, amidst the cheers of the people, the Prince

stepped, inviting the governor to occupy the vacant seat. The procession

was then formed, headed by an escort of volunteer cavalry, commanded by

Major Davies. Immediately in advance of the first carriage walked the

mayor, supported by the recorder and the city treasurer, and after the

carriages, the procession was composed of the judges, the executive

council, the members of both branches of the legislature, the clergy,

the public officers, the city councillors, the committee of management,

the members of the bar and other gentlemen, the troops, and societies

and associations. There were four triumphal arches through which the

procession passed. These were erected at the public expense. On passing

through Rochfort Square, the procession halted for a moment opposite a

platform, on which were assembled upwards of a thousand children, neatly

attired, and belonging to the sabbath schools. When the carriage of the

Prince reached the platform, a thousand youthful voices united in

singing the national anthem, when the emotion of the Prince was such

that he actually shed tears.

At the door of Government House, His Royal Highness was received by Mrs.

Dundas, and conducted to the drawing-room, where the members of the

executive council were presented by the governor. Rain, which had

threatened all day, now began to descend; but there was a pleasant

interval in the afternoon, during which the Prince rode, taking the

Saint Peter's and Malpeque roads, and returning in time for dinner, at

half-past seven o'clock. There was a general illumination in the

evening, the due effect of which was marred by heavy rain. But the

following day was a splendid one. His Royal Highness, in the uniform of

a colonel, held a levee in the forenoon, after which he inspected the

volunteers, to the number of about four hundred and fifty men, in front

of Government House. They were commanded by Major the Hon. T. H.

Haviland, who was complimented on the appearance of the force. Major

Davies' troop of cavalry also received its share of royal commendation.

His Royal Highness drove to the Colonial Building for the purpose of

receiving the addresses of the executive council and of the corporation

of the city. He was received by Mr. Palmer and the Mayor, at the

entrance. Two large stands had been erected for the accommodation of

ladies wishing to witness the interesting ceremony. The civic and

executive addresses were respectively read by the Recorder and the

Honorable Edward Palmer. We may be permitted to say that these

addresses, in point of good taste and expression, were far above the

average of such compositions. To these addresses the Prince made

suitable replies. In the afternoon His Royal Highness took another ride

into the country, making a brief halt at the farm of Mr. H. Longworth,

whence he obtained an extensive view of Charlottetown and the harbor.

In the evening there was a ball in the Colonial Building, which was

attended by a numerous and brilliant assemblage, and where His Royal

Highness danced with much spirit, remaining till after three o'clock.

On Saturday the prince departed from the island, where he had produced a

most favorable impression,--leaving one hundred and fifty pounds to be

disposed of in charity, according to directions communicated to the

lieutenant-governor and his lady.

On the sixteenth of June, 1860, the Duke of Newcastle addressed a

despatch to the lieutenant-governor, expressing his sense of the

promptitude and completeness with which the house of assembly had given

its support to the plan devised in the hope of terminating the

differences on the question of land, by which the island had been so

long agitated, and intimating that a commission would be forwarded,

under the royal sign manual, containing the appointment of the Honorable

Joseph Howe, Mr. John Hamilton Gray, and Mr. John William Ritchie, as

commissioners,--Mr. Howe being the representative of the tenants, Mr.

Gray of the Crown, and Mr. Ritchie of the proprietors. The commissioners

accordingly opened their court at the Colonial Building, on the fifth of

September, 1860,--Mr. Gray presiding. There appeared at the court, as

counsel for the government of the colony, on behalf of the tenantry, Mr.

Samuel Thomson, of Saint John, N. B., and Mr. Joseph Hensley; and for

the proprietors, Mr. R. G. Haliburton and Mr. Charles Palmer. Mr.

Benjamin DesBrisay was appointed clerk to the commissioners. On the

first day, the court was addressed by counsel representing the various

interests, and on the succeeding days, a very large number of witnesses

were examined, for the purpose of eliciting information for the guidance

of the court in coming to a decision. After the evidence had been heard,

the court was addressed by counsel.

The report of the commissioners was dated the eighteenth of July, 1861;

and, as any history of the island would be incomplete without an outline

of its contents, the writer will now proceed to give such outline,

which, whilst it presents leading facts and arguments adduced, will not,

it is hoped, be open to the charge of undue prolixity.

As we have, in the course of the narrative, given an incidental sketch

of the history of the land question, we shall pass over that portion of

the commissioners' report which is occupied with facts that have already

been partially submitted, and to which we must again refer at a more

advanced stage of the narrative, and give the substance of the remedies

which the commissioners proposed for existing evils. The commissioners

expressed the hope that they might be regarded as having entered upon

the discharge of their duties, not only with a high appreciation of the

honor conferred by their appointment, but also with a due sense of the

grave responsibilities which they assumed. When they commenced their

labors there was a general impression that the act of the provincial

legislature, which made their award binding on all parties concerned,

would receive the royal assent; and, although the decision of the

colonial secretary--not to submit that act for Her Majesty's

approval--somewhat relieved them from the weight of responsibility

necessarily involved in the preparation and delivery of a judgment

beyond appeal, they still felt that, as their award was to affect the

titles of a million of acres, and the rights and interests of eighty

thousand people, a hasty decision would not be a wise one, and that the

materials for a judgment ought to be exhausted before the report was


By traversing the island and mixing freely with its people, the

commissioners had become familiar with its great interests and general

aspects. By holding an open court in all the shire towns, they had given

to every man on the island, however poor, an opportunity to explain his

grievances, if he had any. By bringing the proprietors and tenants face

to face before an independent tribunal, mutual misunderstandings and

exaggerated statements had been tested and explained, and the real

condition of society and the evils of the leasehold system had been

carefully contemplated from points of view not often reached by those

whose interests were involved in the controversy. The evidence

collected, though not under oath,--the commissioners not being vested

with power to administer oaths,--was most valuable in aiding them to form

a correct estimate of the evils of which the people complained.

The documentary history of the question extended over nearly a century

of time, and was to be found in the journals of the Legislature, in the

newspaper files of the colony, and in pamphlets more or less numerous.

The amount of time and money wasted in public controversy no man could

estimate; and the extent to which a vicious system of colonization had

entered into the daily life of the people, and embittered their

industrial and social relations, it was painful to record.

The commissioners felt that as the case of Prince Edward Island was

exceptional, so must be the treatment. The application of the local

government for a commission, and the large powers given to it by the

Queen's authority, presupposed the necessity of a departure from the

ordinary legal modes of settling disputes between landlords and tenants,

which the experience of half a century had proved to be inadequate.

Finding that it was impossible to shut out of their inquiry, while on

the island, the questions of escheat, quitrents, and fishery

reserves,--the claims of the descendants of the original French

inhabitants, Indians, and loyalists,--they thought it quite within the

range of their obligations to express their opinions freely upon these

branches of the general subject.

The question of escheat, though apparently withdrawn from the scope of

their inquiry by despatches from the colonial office,--received long

after the opening of the commission,--could not be put aside. The

discussion of the question was forced upon them from the day the court

opened until it closed. The commissioners, therefore, thought it

comported with their duty to express the conclusions at which they had


In considering the best mode of quieting the disputes between the

proprietors and their tenants, and of converting the leasehold into

freehold tenures, the commissioners remarked that the granting of a

whole colony in a single day, in huge blocks of twenty thousand acres

each, was an improvident and unwise exercise of the prerogative of the

Crown. There was no co-operation on the part of the proprietors in

peopling the island. Each acted on his own responsibility, and while a

few showed energy in the work, the great body of the grantees did

nothing. The emigrants sent out by the few were disheartened by the

surrounding wilderness owned by the many, who made no effort to reclaim

it, or were tempted to roam about or disregard the terms of settlement

by the quantity of wild land, with no visible owner to guard it from

intrusion. By mutual co-operation and a common policy, the proprietors

might have redeemed the grants of the imperial government from the

charge of improvidence. The want of these indispensible elements of

success laid the foundation of all the grievances which subsequently

afflicted the colony.

The commissioners regarded the land purchase act as embodying the most

simple and efficacious remedy for existing evils. Under that act the

Worrell and Selkirk estates had been purchased,--covering about one

hundred and forty thousand acres, by which signal advantages were

secured, the proprietors being dispossessed by their own consent, the

tenants being enabled to purchase their holdings and improvements, not

necessarily at a price so high as to represent the rents stipulated to

be paid, but at the lowest price which the expenses of management, added

to the aggregate cost of the estate, would warrant; and the wild lands

were at once rescued from the leasehold system, and were subjected to

the wholesome control of the local government, to be hereafter disposed

of in fee simple, at moderate prices, as they are in all the other North

American provinces. The commissioners unanimously recommended the

application to the whole island of the principles embodied in the land

purchase act, under modifications which appeared to be essential to

their more extended adoption.

With respect to escheat, the commissioners reported that there was no

light in which the present escheat of the titles, on the ground of the

conditions of the original grants having been broken, could be viewed,

which would not exhibit consequences most disastrous to the island. They

therefore reported that there should be no escheat of the original

grants for non-performance of conditions as to settlement.

The commissioners recommended that the imperial parliament should

guarantee a loan of one hundred thousand pounds, so that the money could

be borrowed at a low rate of interest. With the command of such a fund,

the government would be in a condition to enter the market, and to

purchase, from time to time, such estates as could be obtained at

reasonable prices. They did not doubt that many of the proprietors would

be glad to sell, and the competition for the funds at the disposal of

the government would so adjust the prices that judicious purchases could

be made without any arbitrary proceedings or compulsory interference

with private rights. The commissioners felt that it might be beyond

their duty to make such a suggestion, but they hoped Her Majesty's

government would regard the case of Prince Edward Island as exceptional,

its grievances having sprung from the injudicious mode in which its

lands were originally given away.

Assuming that the imperial parliament guaranteed a loan, there remained

to be considered the nature of the security which would be offered.

Although it was not improbable that doubts might have arisen as to the

ability of the colony to repay so large an amount, a glance at its

financial position would show that the required relief might be given

without the risk of any loss to the mother country. The commissioners

showed that the revenue of the island had increased from seventeen

thousand pounds in 1839, to forty-one thousand in 1859,--more than

doubling itself in twenty years. It seemed apparent, therefore, that

without disturbing the tariff or reducing the ordinary appropriations,

in five years the natural increase of population, trade, and consumption

would give six thousand pounds a year, or a sum sufficient to pay the

interest on a hundred thousand pounds, at six per cent. As it was not

improbable that five years would be required to purchase the estates,

and expend the loan to advantage, it might happen that the revenue would

increase as fast as the interest was required, without any increase in

the tariff, or diminution of the appropriations. But it might be

reasonably assumed, when a new spirit was breathed into the island, and

its population turned to the business of life, with new hopes and entire

confidence in the future, that trade would be more active, and the

condition of the people improve. The very operation of the loan act

might therefore supply all the revenue required to meet the difference;

but if it should not, an addition of two and a half per cent, upon the

imports of the island, or a reduction of the road vote for two or three

years, would yield the balance that might be required.

In making their calculations, no reference was made to the fund which

would be at once available from the payment of their instalments by the

tenants who purchased. Two thousand five hundred pounds had been paid by

the tenants on the Selkirk estate in the first year after it was

purchased. Guided by the experience thus gained of the disposition and

of the resources of the tenantry, it was deemed by the commissioners

fair to conclude that if such a sum could be promptly realized from

sales of land, admitted to be among the poorest in the island, the local

government might fairly count upon the command of such an increase, from

the re-sale of the estates they might purchase, as would enable them to

keep faith with the public creditor, without any risk of embarrassment.

In considering the remedies to be applied, three conclusions forced

themselves on the commissioners: that the original grants were

improvident and ought never to have been sanctioned; that all the grants

were liable to forfeiture for breach of the conditions with respect to

settlement, and might have been justly escheated; and that all the

grants might have been practically annulled by the enforcement of

quitrents, and the lands seized and sold by the Crown, at various times,

without the slightest impeachment of its honor. But whilst this opinion

was firmly held, still, the Sovereign having repeatedly confirmed the

original grants, it was impossible to treat the grantees in any other

manner than as the lawful possessors of the soil.

Assuming, then, the sufficiency of the original grants, and the binding

authority of the leases, the commissioners were clearly of opinion that

the leasehold tenure should be converted into freehold. It was, they

said, equally the interest of the imperial and local governments that

this should be done, that agrarian questions should be swept from the

field of controversy, that Her Majesty's ministers might be no longer

assailed by remonstrance and complaint, and that the public men in the

island might turn their attention to the development of its resources.

Assuming, therefore, that a compulsory compromise was inevitable, the

question arose: upon what terms should the proprietors be compelled to

sell, and the tenants be at liberty to purchase?

In answer to this important question, the commissioners awarded that

tenants who tendered twenty years' purchase to their landlords, in cash,

should be entitled to a discount of ten percent., and a deed conveying

the fee-simple of their farms. Where the tenant preferred to pay by

instalments, he should have that privilege; but the landlord would not

be bound to accept a less sum than ten pounds at any time; nor should

the tenant have a longer time than ten years to liquidate the debt. The

tenants whose lands were not worth twenty years' purchase, and who

therefore declined to pay that amount, might tender to their landlords

what they considered the value of their farms. If the landlord declined

to accept the amount offered, the value should be adjusted by

arbitration. If the sum tendered was increased by the award, the tenant

was to pay the expenses; if it was not, they should be paid by the

landlord. It was provided that the rent should be reduced in proportion

to the instalments paid; but no credit should be given for any such

instalments until the three years arrears allowed by the commissioners'

award were paid, nor while any rent accruing after the adjustment of the

value of the farm remained due. Proprietors who held not more than

fifteen thousand acres, or such as desired to hold particular lands to

that extent, were not to be compelled to part with such lands under the

award. Leases under a term of less than forty years were not affected by

the award.

With regard to arrears of rent due, it was awarded by the commissioners

that a release of all arrears, beyond those which had accrued during the

three years preceding the first of May, would be for the benefit of both

landlords and tenants.

With regard to the case of the descendants of the loyalists who sought

homes in Prince Edward Island after the confiscation of their properties

in the old revolted colonies, the commissioners considered that they had

claims on the local government. His Majesty's government, in 1783, felt

the full force of the claims of their ancestors, and was sincere in its

desire to make a liberal provision for them; but the rights which they

had then acquired, when the proprietors had engaged to make certain

grants of land for their benefit, were, unfortunately, not enforced. The

commissioners recommended that the local government should make free

grants to such as could prove that their fathers had been lured to the

island under promises which had never been fulfiled.

With regard to the claims of the descendants of the original French

inhabitants, the commissioners, with every desire to take a generous

view of the sufferings of persons whose only crime was adherence to the

weaker side in a great national struggle, could not, after the lapse of

a century, rescue them from the ordinary penalties incident to a state

of war.

The Indian claims were limited to Lennox Island, and to grass lands

around it; and as it appeared by evidence that the Indians had been in

uninterrupted occupancy of the property for more than half a century,

and had built a chapel and several houses on the island, the

commissioners were of opinion that their title should be confirmed, and

that this very small portion of the wide territory their forefathers

formerly owned should be left in the undisturbed possession of this last

remnant of the race.

The commissioners closed their report by expressing their conviction

that, should the general principles propounded be accepted in the spirit

by which they were animated, and followed by practical legislation, the

colony would start forward with renewed energy, dating a new era from

the year 1861. In such an event, the British government would have nobly

atoned for any errors in its past policy, the legislature would no

longer be distracted with efforts to close the courts upon proprietors,

or to tamper with the currency of the island; the cry of tenant-rights

would cease to disguise the want of practical statesmanship, or to

over-awe the local administration; men who had hated and disturbed each

other would be reconciled, and pursue their common interests in mutual

co-operation; roads would be levelled, breakwaters built, the river-beds

dredged, new fertilizers applied to a soil annually drained of its

vitality; emigration would cease, and population attracted to the wild

lands would enter upon their cultivation, unembarrassed by the causes

which perplexed the early settlers. Weighed down by the burden of the

investigation, the commissioners had sometimes felt doubtful of any

beneficial results; but they now, at the close of their labors, indulged

the hope that, if their suggestions were adopted, enfranchised and

disenthralled from the poisoned garments that enfolded her, Prince

Edward Island would yet become the Barbadoes of the Saint Lawrence.

Our limits will not admit of a more extended account of the

commissioners' report, which constitutes a most important portion of the

annals of the island. We hope we have succeeded in giving the kernel of

it. It is impossible for any candid person to rise from the perusal of

the document, as well as of the voluminous body of facts and evidence on

which it is based, without the conviction that the work was committed to

men whose experience and acquirements eminently fitted them for the

onerous duty entrusted to them, and without feeling that they were

inspired with the desire to do justice to all the interests involved.

They condemned--and most justly--the imperial government, which had

originally granted the land in such enormous quantity to each grantee,

on the ground of public services, the merits of which it was most

difficult for the commissioners to estimate. To say the truth, in the

case of many of the grantees, it would require a microscope of no

ordinary power to detect their existence. The conditions attached to the

grants were deliberately disregarded by the bulk of the proprietors,

who, up to the time the commission was appointed, continued to wield an

amount of influence in the councils of successive Sovereigns, which

successfully frustrated every effort made by the people to obtain

justice. The emigrants who left their native land were under the

impression that they were to be conducted to a country where they might

speedily attain, by moderate industry, to independence; where advantages

were to be obtained which could not be got in other portions of the vast

continent of America. In four years from the date of the original grants

a third of the land was to be actually settled; within ten years there

was to be a settler to every hundred acres of land; as evidence that

there was to be no lack of protestant clergymen, one hundred acres were

allotted for a church and glebe; and as a guaranty that the schoolmaster

would be found at home, thirty acres were allotted to him in this

prospectively populous and happy island. The honor of the British

government was committed as a guaranty for the realization of these

brilliant promises. But during the first ten years the terms, as to

population, were complied with in ten townships only, nine being

partially settled, and forty-eight utterly neglected. The proprietors,

knowing that they could get the British government to do what they

pleased, petitioned, in the year after the grants were made, for a

separate government, and the expense was to be met by the quitrents,

which, however, they took good care not to pay; and as a reward for the

concession of a separate government, Britain had to pay for the

maintenance of the civil establishment of the island. Thirty years after

the grants were made, the assembly passed resolutions which set forth

clearly the extent to which the obligations under which the proprietors

had come were disregarded, and petitioned that they might be compelled

to fulfil the conditions on which they had obtained the land, or that it

should be escheated and granted in small tracts to actual settlers. In

shameful violation of the principles of national honor and justice, the

representations of the people, through their representatives, were

disregarded, in consequence of the influence brought to bear, by the

grantees, on a weak and incompetent government; and thus there was on

the part of Britain a flagrant breach of faith with the immigrants who

had been tempted to leave their native country, trusting to guarantees

the violation of which was never suspected. The people of the island

continued for ninety years to protest against the injury under which

they suffered, till at last a commission was appointed. Credit must be

given to the commissioners for the thoroughness of their investigation,

for the reliability of their facts, and for the impartiality and general

soundness of their awards. Yet the report seems to lack necessary

pungency and power in dealing with the iniquity of successive

governments in failing to make compensation to the island immigrants and

their successors for injuries persistently inflicted, and borne with a

degree of patience that excites our wonder. Instead, however, of such

injuries generating sympathy or admiration, leading to a rectification

of admitted evils, the only result was a flow of official twaddle about

the sacred rights of property, and the duty of obedience to imperial

edicts relating to the soil,--edicts of which any civilized country might

well be ashamed, and to which no parallel can be found in the voluminous

annals of the colonial possessions of an empire on which the sun never

sets. While immigrants to other portions of America obtained good land

in fee-simple for the merest trifle, and were working their way to

competence and independence, the farmers of Prince Edward Island,

weighed down by rent, were doomed to clear the forest and improve the

land, finding themselves in many cases, in their old age, no richer than

on their arrival in the country, with no prospect before their families

but hard work, and with no hope of a permanent or adequate return.

Happily, the fearful difficulties encountered by the early settlers do

not exist--at least in the same degree--now; and by dint of economy, hard

work, and self-denial, not a few have attained to comparative comfort

and independence. The commissioners say: "the grievances of the island

have sprung from the injudicious mode in which the lands were originally

given away." That is only half the truth. The Crown had the abstract

right to grant the land in blocks of twenty thousand acres each; but the

Crown had not the right, after the conditions on which the land had been

allotted were published, and its good faith had been committed to the

fulfilment of these conditions by the owners on pain of forfeiture, to

permit their violation without the infliction of the penalty. Thousands,

on the faith of these conditions being honestly implemented, had staked

their prospects in life. The original immigrants would not have come to

Prince Edward Island as tenants while they might have obtained free land

elsewhere, unless compensatory advantages had been offered. These

advantages were implied in the conditions of settlement attached to the

grants. When, therefore, the British government permitted the violation

of the contract, they broke faith with the immigrants, and became

morally and constitutionally responsible for the consequences of such

violation. The remedy was in the hands of the Crown. The original

proprietors having failed to keep their engagements, the clear and

honest duty of the Crown was to declare the land of such proprietors

escheated, and, as compensation to the emigrants, to make moderate free

grants to them of a portion of it. Instead of adopting this manly and

honest course, the Crown ignored the injury inflicted on the tenants,

and allowed the proprietors to retain their land in a wilderness state,

thus causing long-continued misery and bitterness in the island, and

almost permanently obscuring the lustre of one of the brightest gems in

the British colonial diadem. The charge of indifference to the just

complaints of the people cannot be brought against the successive local

legislatures and governments of the island. Law after law was enacted,

and petition after petition was laid at the foot of the throne. The

people met in masses and prayed for relief. Verily, there was no lack of

importunity; but the official ear--always open to the complaints and

representations of many landholders and their satellites, who were ever

sensitive to the imaginary rights, but totally oblivious of the real

duties of property--was conveniently deaf to the groans of an oppressed

people. Year after year passed without any effectual remedy being

applied, and the original proprietors either died or transferred their

property to others; and for a long period, before the appointment of the

commission, the answer to all applications to the colonial office for

escheat was the melancholy chant of too late! too late! Father Time

and his progeny proscription now presented barriers which were deemed

insuperable. Every successive minister for the colonies became expert at

counting on his fingers the number of years that had elapsed since the

British government broke faith with the people of Prince Edward Island,

and re-echoed the chant, "Too late! too late!" It must be conceded that,

after the lapse of so long a period, it was impossible, without positive

injury to proprietors who were in no way responsible for existing evils,

to escheat the land, and the views taken by the commissioners on this

point must commend themselves to every unprejudiced mind; but, admitting

all this, the question occurs, was it too late to fix blame in the

proper quarter, and to repair the damage sustained by the island?

Certainly not. We think it must be regarded as a radical defect in the

report of the commissioners that no pointed answer was given to that

question. It was unfortunately too late to make compensation to those

who first came to the country on the faith of imperial pledges which

were not redeemed, and who, after a life of toil, had passed the bourne

whence no traveller returns, leaving an inheritance of difficulty and

trouble to their sons and daughters; but it was not too late to make

honorable compensation to the latter, and, at the same time, justice to

the present owners of the soil, by buying the land with money out of the

public treasury of the mother country, and giving it to those whose just

claims had been so long criminally disregarded. Whilst in the plainest

terms the commissioners admitted that the island grievances sprung from

the injudicious mode in which the lands were originally given away, they

did not press for due compensation being made by the country whose

rulers had produced these grievances, but recommended that the imperial

government should guarantee a loan for the purchase of the land of one

hundred thousand pounds, on the production, by the island authorities,

of most satisfactory security for the payment of principal and interest.

In plain English, the aggrieved parties were made practically

responsible for oppression in the production of which they had no hand,

and for which, therefore, they could in no legitimate sense be held

responsible. On the assumption that the British government were not

accountable, the award of the commissioners was admirable; but, assuming

their responsibility, the cost of rectification was recommended to be

borne by the wrong parties.

Let it not be for a moment supposed that it is intended by these remarks

to foster discontent in the island, to weaken the bonds which unite it

to the old country, or to generate a spirit of disloyalty to the Crown

or dissatisfaction towards good landlords. Were the writer inspired by

so criminal a desire, his efforts would fail in the production of any

such consequences. The people have learned to put no confidence either

in governments or princes; but, under Almighty favor, by economy,

temperance, and hard work, to trust to their own efforts in sweeping

from the island the remnants of a pernicious system, and of attaining

that measure of independence and prosperity to which such formidable

obstacles have been presented, but the ultimate realization of which the

capabilities of the island warrant. Since the island became British

property, not a petition or complaint has been laid at the foot of the

throne which has not breathed the most devoted loyalty; and the people,

under trials which might have tested the patience of Job, have borne

them with a degree of meekness and patience to which few parallels can

be produced; and at this moment the beloved Queen of Great Britain has

not more sturdy, faithful, and resolute defenders of her throne and

person than the inhabitants of Prince Edward Island. Loyalty must be

indigenous to a soil where, under such adverse conditions, it has taken

such deep root and flourishes.

In the very year when the commissioners were prosecuting their

inquiries, Prince Edward Island responded to the call for a defensive

force by organizing twenty companies of volunteers, mustering upwards of

a thousand men, showing a degree of loyalty, zeal, and energy in that

direction inferior to no other portion of the Queen's dominions.

A general census of the island was taken in 1861. The population was

then--as certified in the most accurate returns--eighty thousand eight

hundred and fifty-six, including three hundred and fifteen Indians. The

churches numbered one hundred and fifty-six; schoolhouses, three hundred

and two; and public teachers, two hundred and eighty. There were

eighty-nine fishing establishments on the island, which produced

twenty-two thousand barrels of herrings and gasperaux, seven thousand

barrels of mackerel, thirty-nine thousand quintals of codfish, and

seventeen thousand gallons of fish-oils. There were one hundred and

forty-one grist-mills, one hundred and seventy-six saw-mills, and

forty-six carding-mills; fifty-five tanneries, manufacturing one hundred

and forty-three thousands pounds of leather.

The executive government having, in 1861, appointed commissioners to

superintend the collection of products and manufactures of the island

for the London exhibition of 1862, the duty was judiciously performed,

and the articles forwarded to the exhibition under the charge of Mr.

Henry Haszard, the secretary to the commissioners.

A profound sensation was caused in the island by intelligence of the

seizure of Messrs. Mason and Slidell, civil servants of the Southern

States, when under the protection of the English flag, on their passage

from Havana to England on board the steamship Trent. A remonstrance

was forwarded by the British government to that of the Northern States;

and the act of the commander of the San Jacinto--the American vessel by

which the outrage was committed--having been disapproved of by the

American government, the Southern commissioners were set at liberty, and

the dispute happily terminated.

On the eighth of January, 1862, intelligence of the death of His Royal

Highness Prince Albert reached the island. He died at Windsor Castle on

the fourteenth of December, 1861, in the forty-second year of his age.

Official intimation of his death was communicated to the

lieutenant-governor by the Duke of Newcastle, and His Excellency ordered

that forty-two minute-guns should be fired from Saint George's Battery

at twelve o'clock, noon; and Her Majesty's faithful subjects were

enjoined to put themselves into mourning. The life of the departed

Prince was one of singular purity and usefulness, and his memory will

forever stand honorably associated with that of Queen Victoria, than

whom a more virtuous and beloved Sovereign never swayed a British

sceptre. An address of condolence to Her Majesty was adopted by the


In answer to a despatch from the governor to the colonial secretary,

requesting that he should be favored with a copy of the land

commissioners' report, His Excellency received a despatch from the Duke

of Newcastle, dated the seventh of February, 1862, accompanied by a copy

of the report, which was anxiously desired by the people. His Grace said

that he was desirous of expressing his appreciation of the painstaking,

able, and impartial report which the commissioners had furnished,--a

report which would derive additional weight from its unanimity, and

which was the result of an investigation so complete that it had

exhausted the material for inquiry into the facts of the case. The

difficulties that remained were those which were inherent in the

subject, and which had, for a long course of years, baffled every

attempt at solution. His Grace, at the same time, held out no hope--for

reasons which he did not state--that the loan of one hundred thousand

pounds, in order to buy the estates of Prince Edward Island from their

present owners, would be guaranteed. Mr. Labouchere, the colonial

minister, suggested such a loan in 1855, and it was warmly advocated by

Lord Stanley in 1858, when he held that office; and the people of the

island had fair ground for additional complaint against the home

government, when that government did not condescend even to state

manfully the reasons for such a point-blank refusal, more especially as

the commissioners had advocated most earnestly the imperial guaranty

of such a loan,--such recommendation being one of the cardinal points in

their award. The duke further intimated in the despatch that there

appeared to be insuperable objections to that multiplicity of separate

land arbitrations which would be the effect of the alternative measure

alluded to in the commissioners' report. Shorn of the vital portions of

the award, which were thus politely ignored, the report was divested, to

a large extent, of its immediate practical value; and the official

compliment paid to the commissioners was but very poor compensation for

the rejection of incomparably the most important portions of an award

which had been arrived at after a painstaking and complete

investigation, in the conduct of which was enlisted an amount of

patience, impartiality, discrimination, and ability which it would be

difficult to match. The secret of the mild manner in which imperial

delinquencies, in the treatment of Prince Edward Island, were touched

upon in this production may probably be found in a due appreciation by

the commissioners of governmental sensitiveness on the point, producing

the conviction that to ask for more than would probably be granted would

injure--rather than promote--just claims to compensation.

The assembly met in February, and adopted a resolution, by a vote of

twenty-three to six, pledging itself to introduce a measure to confirm

the award of the commissioners in all its provisions. The action of the

assembly in thus, without hesitation, honorably abiding by the award of

the commissioners, without cavil or complaint, was highly creditable to

its character; but the award did not meet with the same degree of

approval at the hands of the landowners who were parties to the

appointment of the commission. The Duke of Newcastle addressed a

despatch to the governor, dated the fifth of April, 1862, enclosing a

draft bill, drawn up by the proprietors, for settling the differences

between landlords and tenants on certain townships, in the preamble of

which it was stated that the commissioners, in providing that the value

of land should be ascertained by arbitrators, to be appointed by the

landlords and tenants, exceeded the authority intended to be given to

them by the assembly and the proprietors, and if their suggestion were

adopted, disputes and litigation between the landlords and tenants would

ensue. Thus these gentlemen completely ignored the award of the

commissioners, and proposed to substitute a remedy of their own. In thus

acting, they had the support of the colonial secretary, for although, in

the despatch by which the draft bill was accompanied his Grace did not

express positive approval of the landowners' proposals, he,

nevertheless, stated that it would give him great pleasure if Sir Samuel

Cunard's anticipations as a proprietor were realized in reference to the


Two acts had been promptly passed by the assembly on the land

question,--one to give effect to the report of the commissioners, and

another to facilitate the operation of the award in cases of anticipated

difficulty; and the local government framed a minute in which they

affirmed, in reference to the landlords' proposed bill, that they could

not believe that the legislature would sanction any measure bearing on

the land question which might differ essentially from the principles

embodied in the commissioners' report. They asserted that the assembly

deemed the government pledged to carry out the award of the commission,

and they denied that the charge preferred in the preamble of the

proprietors' bill, that the commissioners had exceeded their commission,

could be substantiated. From the language of the commission, the

government argued that the powers conferred upon them were

unlimited,--amply sufficient to empower them to define any mode of

settlement of a purely equitable character. By a passage contained in a

despatch of the colonial secretary, he seemed to apprehend that the

arbitration system prescribed by the commissioners would necessitate a

multiplicity of separate local arbitrations, which would constitute

insuperable objections against this mode of adjustment. The government,

however, did not anticipate that many of these arbitrations would take

place in the practical working of the system. In their opinion, two or

three cases on a township would have the effect of establishing a scale

of prices which would become a standard of value. The minute--a temperate

and well-reasoned document--concluded with an expression of the hope that

the bills passed by the house of assembly would receive the royal

sanction. They reminded the colonial secretary that the differences

which the commissioners were appointed to determine had, for half a

century, exerted a most baneful influence upon the colony, and that the

people hailed with much satisfaction the prospect of having them

adjusted. Should anything occur to prevent such adjustment, the

consequences would be of a very serious nature, and result in causing

much anxiety to Her Majesty's ministers, and also to the local


To this minute, which was dated the twenty-second of July, 1862, the

Duke of Newcastle replied in a despatch of the ninth of August,

following. He expressed regret that he could not concur in the views of

the government. The main questions which the commissioners were

appointed to decide were: first, at what rate tenants ought to be

allowed to acquire freehold interests in their property; and, next, what

amount of arrears of rent should be remitted by the landlords. On the

first and most important of these questions, the commissioners professed

themselves unable to come to any conclusion, and, instead of deciding

it, they recommended, virtually, that it should be decided by other

arbitrators, to be hereafter nominated. This, however, he said, was not

what they were charged to do: they were authorized by the proprietors to

make an award themselves, but they were not authorized to transfer the

duty of making that award to others. The trust confided to them was a

personal one. The proprietors relied on the skill, knowledge, and

fairness of the three gentlemen appointed in 1860; and they could not,

therefore, be called upon, in deference to these gentlemen's opinion, to

confide their interests even to arbitrators specially designated in the

award, much less to persons whose very mode of appointment was

undetermined by it. This objection might be waived by the proprietors,

but it was not waived; and being insisted on, the colonial secretary

said he was obliged to admit that it was conclusive, and he was bound

further to say that it was, in his opinion, an objection founded, not on

any technical rule of law, but on a sound and indisputable principle of

justice,--the principle, namely, that a person who has voluntarily

submitted his case to the decision of one man, cannot, therefore, be

compelled, without his consent, to transfer it to the decision of


For these reasons, the colonial minister did not advise Her Majesty to

sanction the two acts which had been forwarded, and which were, of

course, intended to render the award obligatory on all who had consented

to the reference. The report of the commissioners was therefore regarded

by the home government simply as an expression of opinion which was not

binding, and which ought not to be allowed to stand in the way of any

other proposal which promised an amicable settlement of the question.