Table of Contents:
A London journal mentions a rumor, in English political circles, that the British Government intends to abandon Canada, thereby removing a cause of war which might arise hereafter by the Yankees seizing upon that province. A brief sketch of the great colony which England is said to contemplate surrendering will enable the reader to decide for himself the degree of probability of that rumor. The surface of Lower Canada is about a quarter of a million of square miles, or a hundred and sixty millions of acres, not including the surface covered by the lakes and rivers of the province. In the fertility of large portions of its soil; in the pastoral loveliness of other portions, which are said to emulate the finest scenes of England; in the grand and beautiful features of its mountain, river and lake scenery, it is worthy to be itself an empire. That grand life-giver of the country, the St. Lawrence river, is surpassed in length by few, and equalled in magnificence by no other river of the world. It runs a course of nearly three thousand miles, varying from one to ninety miles broad, two thousand miles of which are navigable by large ships, and the rest by vessels up to sixty tons burden. The groves, orchards, corn-fields, lakes, of this wonderful land, have always been looked upon with an eye of affection by the people of the United States. Quebec has been pronounced the Gibraltar of the New World, but it may be questioned whether a sudden rush of fifty thousand American troops might not dispel that illusion. Lower Canada, if fully peopled, will be equal to the largest European empire, except Russia; and it is said that no country in the world affords more adequate means for putting the whole of its surface at the disposal of the population. Upper Canada is nearly twice the size of Great Britain, inhabited principally by an English population, with a singularly fertile soil and comparatively mild climate — its noble lakes tempering the severity of the latitude, and securing general communication. These lakes and the canals of the United States with which they unite, enable vessels from Canadian ports to communicate inland with the Gulf of Mexico. The quantity of good soil is said to be proportionate to that of any other country of the globe, and in some places fifty bushels of wheat are a frequent produce. Iron, copper and coal are found; and these, in the hands of English energy, can accomplish anything. The winters are severe but healthy, and seem to afford a holiday, instead of a period of suffering, to the population. Great Britain has expended vast sums in the military acquisition and defence of Canada, and in a grand system of internal improvements; besides which, she is now laying the Atlantic cable, with one end on the British province of Newfoundland, which does not look much like sundering her connection with any of her Northern possessions on this continent. It has also become evident to British statesmen, or ought to be by this time, that it is to her own colonies, and not the trade with independent States, that she must look for the means both of upholding her maritime superiority and obtaining subsistence or employment to her numerous and rapidly-increasing population. The North American colonies, with a population scarcely a tenth that of the old United States, employs six times more British tonnage than the United States. No matter how rapidly her trade has increased with America or any other independent country, that trade came to glide at last in the vessels of the foreign country in preference to her own. Whilst her tonnage employed in trade with European States has fallen off, that employed in trade with her colonies has constantly increased. Nor is the necessity of an outlet for her superabundant population one of the least important requirements of her condition. With a redundancy of human life on that small island, increasing rapidly every day, all of its multitudes, in a great degree, dependent, directly or indirectly, on foreign commerce, how is her population to be maintained; how is society to be saved from the social, political and physical evils which, in such a country, menace its existence; how is a ruinous explosion from the forces generated by its own order and energy to be avoided, if the outlets of commerce and emigration are closed up? These considerations lead us to doubt decidedly the report that the British Government seriously contemplates the relinquishment of Canada. Its population is as loyal as any in the world. Its invasion by the Americans in the war of the Revolution and in 1812 resulted only in failure. If America is stronger for aggression now than formerly, Great Britain is also stronger for defence. We think another report is much more likely to be true — namely, that the British Government is employing thirty thousand laborers in constructing an extensive system of fortifications in Canada. The experience of its own efforts to wrest Canada from the French must have satisfied the British Government of the importance of such a system to the preservation of the province from foreign invasion. In 1690, a Massachusetts fleet of thirty- four vessels and ten thousand men made an unsuccessful effort to reduce Quebec, though the defences were then of the slightest character. Costly expeditions were fitted out in 1704, 1707 and 1709, resulting again in failure. In 1711, land forces of twelve thousand men and fifteen ships-of-war again attempted the conquest of Canada, and again accomplished nothing. In 1745, an expedition, consisting of six thousand provincial and eight hundred seamen, and a combined naval force of near seven hundred guns, attacked Louisburg. The garrison consisted of only six hundred regulars and one thousand militia, with an armament not one-third of that brought to bear against it. Yet the place held out forty-nine days, and at last was surrendered through the want of provisions and the disaffection of the inhabitants.--In 1755, there was another invasion, under favorable auspices, with ample preparations, and a vast superiority of force; but the superiority was again counter-balanced by the faulty plans of the English and the fortifications of the French. The three succeeding years witnessed similar invasions, with similar results, from similar causes. In this last campaign, the English had fifty thousand men and the French only five thousand, but the result was the same. Thus far in these wars the English were vastly superior in strength and numbers; the whole population of the French colonies of Canada and Louisiana did not exceed fifty-two thousand, whilst that of the English colonies amounted to upwards of one million, yet the French not only retained their possessions in the North, but extended their jurisdiction to the mouth of the Mississippi, and laid claim to the whole country west of the Alleghany mountains. This result is justly attributed, by high military authority, not to any superiority of the French in bravery, but especially to their fortifications, which pursued interior and central lines, while the English followed exterior and divergent lines. It was not till, in an evil hour, the French consented to forego the advantages of their fortifications that England obtained a foot hold in Canada. The country thus defended by the French is now occupied by the English, and they are not likely to overlook advantages of defence which they found it, in so many campaigns, impossible to overcome. There is no such disproportion between the population of the United States and the population of Canada as at that time. Then the English colonies had nearly twenty times the population of Canada; now the United States has only about six times the number. We are, therefore, disposed to question the report that England intends to give up Canada, and are inclined to believe the report that she is fortifying it; and moreover, will be easily able to hold, it in the event of a war with the United States; and not only to hold it, but to make it, besides, a base of aggressive durations against that country.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.