The 'Patriotes' of '37 - Part 4

Part 4




The rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada profoundly affected public opinion in the mother country. That the first year of the reign of the young Queen Victoria should have been marred by an armed revolt in an important British colony shocked the sensibilities of Englishmen and forced the country and the government to realize that the grievances of the Canadian Reformers were more serious than they had imagined. It was clear that the old system of alternating concession and repression had broken down and that the situation demanded radical action. The Melbourne government suspended the const.i.tution of Lower Canada for three years, and appointed the Earl of Durham as Lord High Commissioner, with very full powers, to go out to Canada to investigate the grievances and to report on a remedy.

John George Lambton, the first Earl of {105} Durham, was a wealthy and powerful Whig n.o.bleman, of decided Liberal, if not Radical, leanings.

He had taken no small part in the framing of the Reform Bill of 1832, and at one time he had been hailed by the English Radicals or Chartists as their coming leader. It was therefore expected that he would be decently sympathetic with the Reform movements in the Canadas. At the same time, Melbourne and his ministers were only too glad to ship him out of the country. There was no question of his great ability and statesmanlike outlook. But his advanced Radical views were distasteful to many of his former colleagues; and his arrogant manners, his lack of tact, and his love of pomp and circ.u.mstance made him unpopular even in his own party. The truth is that he was an excellent leader to work under, but a bad colleague to work with. The Melbourne government had first got rid of him by sending him to St Petersburg as amba.s.sador extraordinary; and then, on his return from St Petersburg, they got him out of the way by sending him to Canada. He was at first loath to go, mainly on the ground of ill health; but at the personal intercession of the young queen he accepted the commission offered him. It was {106} an evil day for himself, but a good day for Canada, when he did so.

Durham arrived in Quebec, with an almost regal retinue, on May 28, 1838. Gosford, who had remained in Canada throughout the rebellion, had gone home at the end of February; and the administration had been taken over by Sir John Colborne, the commander-in-chief of the forces.

As soon as the news of the suspension of the const.i.tution reached Lower Canada, Sir John Colborne appointed a provisional special council of twenty-two members, half of them French and half of them English, to administer the affairs of the province until Lord Durham should arrive.

The first official act of Lord Durham in the colony swept this council out of existence. 'His Excellency believes,' the members of the council were told, 'that it is as much the interest of you all, as for the advantage of his own mission, that his administrative conduct should be free from all suspicions of political influence or party feeling; that it should rest on his own undivided responsibility, and that when he quits the Province, he should leave none of its permanent residents in any way committed by the acts which his Government may have {107} found it necessary to perform, during the temporary suspension of the Const.i.tution.' In its place he appointed a small council of five members, all but one from his own staff. The one Canadian called to this council was Dominick Daly, the provincial secretary, whom Colborne recommended as being unidentified with any political party.

The first great problem with which Lord Durham and his council had to deal was the question of the political prisoners, numbers of whom were still lying in the prisons of Montreal. Sir John Colborne had not attempted to decide what should be done with them, preferring to shift this responsibility upon Lord Durham. It would probably have been much better to have settled the matter before Lord Durham set foot in the colony, so that his mission might not have been handicapped at the outset with so th.o.r.n.y a problem; but it is easy to follow Colborne's reasoning. In the first place, he did not bring the prisoners to trial because no Lower-Canadian jury at that time could have been induced to convict them, a reasonable inference from the fact that the murder of Weir had gone unavenged, even as the murderers of Chartrand were to be acquitted {108} by a jury a few months later. In the second place, Colborne had not the power to deal with the prisoners summarily.

Moreover, most of the rebel leaders had not been captured. The only three prisoners of much importance were Wolfred Nelson, Robert Bouchette, and Bonaventure Viger. The rest of the _Patriote_ leaders were scattered far and wide. Chenier and Girod lay beneath the springing sod; Papineau, O'Callaghan, Storrow Brown, Robert Nelson, Cote, and Rodier were across the American border; Morin had just come out of his hiding-place in the Canadian backwoods; and LaFontaine, after vainly endeavouring, on the outbreak of rebellion, to get Gosford to call together the legislature of Lower Canada, had gone abroad. The future course of the rebels who had fled to the United States was still doubtful; there was a strong probability that they might create further disturbances. And, while the situation was still unsettled, Colborne thought it better to leave the fate of the prisoners to be decided by Durham.

Durham's instructions were to temper justice with mercy. His own instincts were apparently in favour of a complete amnesty; but he supposed it necessary to make an {109} example of some of the leaders.

After earnest deliberation and consultation with his council, and especially with his chief secretary, Charles Buller, the friend and pupil of Thomas Carlyle, Durham determined to grant to the rebels a general amnesty, with only twenty-four exceptions. Eight of the men excepted were political prisoners who had been prominent in the revolt and who had confessed their guilt and had thrown themselves on the mercy of the Lord High Commissioner; the remaining sixteen were rebel leaders who had fled from the country. Durham gave orders that the eight prisoners should be transported to the Bermudas during the queen's pleasure. The sixteen refugees were forbidden to return to Canada under penalty of death without benefit of clergy.

No one can fail to see that this course was dictated by the humanest considerations. A criminal rebellion had terminated without the shedding judicially of a drop of blood. Lord Durham even took care that the eight prisoners should not be sent to a convict colony. The only criticism directed against his course in Canada was on the ground of its excessive lenity. Wolfred Nelson and Robert Bouchette had certainly suffered a milder fate {110} than that of Samuel Lount and Peter Matthews, who had been hanged in Upper Canada for rebellion. Yet when the news of Durham's action reached England, it was immediately attacked as arbitrary and unconst.i.tutional. The a.s.sault was opened by Lord Brougham, a bitter personal enemy of Lord Durham. In the House of Lords Brougham contended that Durham had had no right to pa.s.s sentence on the rebel prisoners and refugees when they had not been brought to trial; and that he had no right to order them to be transported to, and held in, Bermuda, where his authority did not run. In this att.i.tude he was supported by the Duke of Wellington, the leader of the Tory party.

Wellington's name is one which is usually remembered with honour in the history of the British Empire; but on this occasion he did not think it beneath him to play fast and loose with the interests of Canada for the sake of a paltry party advantage. It would have been easy for him to recognize the humanity of Durham's policy, and to join with the government in legislating away any technical illegalities that may have existed in Durham's ordinance; but Wellington could not resist the temptation to embarra.s.s the Whig {111} administration, regardless of the injury which he might be doing to the sorely tried people of Canada.

The Melbourne administration, which had sent Durham to Canada, might have been expected to stand behind him when he was attacked. Lord John Russell, indeed, rose in the House of Commons and made a thoroughgoing defence of Durham's policy as 'wise and statesmanlike.' But he alone of the ministers gave Durham loyal support. In the House of Lords Melbourne contented himself with a feeble defence of Durham and then capitulated to the Opposition. Nothing would have been easier for him than to introduce a bill making valid whatever may have been irregular in Durham's ordinance; but instead of that he disallowed the ordinance, and pa.s.sed an Act of Indemnity for all those who had had a part in carrying it out. Without waiting to hear Durham's defence, or to consult with him as to the course which should be followed, the Cabinet weakly surrendered to an attack of his personal enemies. Durham was betrayed in the house of his friends.

The news of the disallowance of the ordinance first reached Durham through the columns of an American newspaper. {112} Immediately his mind was made up. Without waiting for any official notification, he sent in his resignation to the colonial secretary. He was quite satisfied himself that he had not exceeded his powers. 'Until I learn,' he wrote, 'from some one better versed in the English language that despotism means anything but such an aggregation of the supreme executive and legislative authority in a single head, as was deliberately made by Parliament in the Act which const.i.tuted my powers, I shall not blush to hear that I have exercised a despotism; I shall feel anxious only to know how well and wisely I have used, or rather exhibited an intention of using, my great powers.' But he felt that if he could expect no firm support from the Melbourne government, his usefulness was gone, and resignation was the only course open to him.

He wrote, however, that he intended to remain in Canada until he had completed the inquiries he had inst.i.tuted. In view of the 'lamentable want of information' with regard to Canada which existed in the Imperial parliament, he confessed that he 'would take shame to himself if he left his inquiry incomplete.'

A few days before Durham left Canada he took the unusual and, under ordinary {113} circ.u.mstances, unconst.i.tutional course of issuing a proclamation, in which he explained the reasons for his resignation, and in effect appealed from the action of the home government to Canadian public opinion. It was this proclamation which drew down on him from _The Times_ the nickname of 'Lord High Seditioner.' The wisdom of the proclamation was afterwards, however, vigorously defended by Charles Duller. The general unpopularity of the British government, Duller explained, was such in Canada that a little more or less could not affect it; whereas it was a matter of vital importance that the angry and suspicious colonists should find one British statesman with whom they could agree. The real justification of the proclamation lay in the magical effect which it had upon the public temper. The news that the ordinance had been disallowed, and that the whole question of the political prisoners had been once more thrown into the melting-pot, had greatly excited the public mind; and the proclamation fell like oil upon the troubled waters. 'No disorder, no increase of disaffection ensued; on the contrary, all parties in the Province expressed a revival of confidence.'

Lord Durham left Quebec on November 1, {114} 1838. 'It was a sad day and a sad departure,' wrote Buller. 'The streets were crowded. The spectators filled every window and every house-top, and, though every hat was raised as we pa.s.sed, a deep silence marked the general grief for Lord Durham's departure.' Durham had been in Canada only five short months. Yet in that time he had gained a knowledge of, and an insight into, the Canadian situation such as no other governor of Canada had possessed. The permanent monument of that insight is, of course, his famous _Report on the Affairs of British North America_, issued by the Colonial Office in 1839. This is no place to write at length about that greatest of all doc.u.ments ever published with regard to colonial affairs. This much, however, may be said. In the _Report_ Lord Durham rightly diagnosed the evils of the body politic in Canada.

He traced the rebellion to two causes, in the main: first, racial feeling; and, secondly, that 'union of representative and irresponsible government' of which he said that it was difficult to understand how any English statesman ever imagined that such a system would work. And yet one of the two chief remedies which he recommended seemed like a death sentence pa.s.sed on the French in Canada. {115} This was the proposal for the legislative union of Upper and Lower Canada with the avowed object of anglicizing by absorption the French population. This suggestion certainly did not promote racial peace. The other proposal, that of granting to the Canadian people responsible government in all matters not infringing 'strictly imperial interests,' blazed the trail leading out of the swamps of pre-rebellion politics.

In one respect only is Lord Durham's _Report_ seriously faulty: it is not fair to French Canadians. 'They cling,' wrote Durham, 'to ancient prejudices, ancient customs, and ancient laws, not from any strong sense of their beneficial effects, but with the unreasoning tenacity of an uneducated and unprogressive people.' To their racial and nationalist ambitions he was far from favourable. 'The error,' he contended, 'to which the present contest is to be attributed is the vain endeavour to preserve a French-Canadian nationality in the midst of Anglo-American colonies and states'; and he quoted with seeming approval the statement of one of the Lower Canada 'Bureaucrats' that 'Lower Canada must be _English_, at the expense, if necessary, of not being _British_.' His primary {116} object in recommending the union of the two Canadas, to place the French in a minority in the united province, was surely a mistaken policy. Fortunately, it did not become operative. Lord Elgin, a far wiser statesman, who completed Durham's work by introducing the substance of responsible government which the _Report_ recommended, decidedly opposed anything in the nature of a gradual crusade against French-Canadian nationalism. 'I for one,' he wrote, 'am deeply convinced of the impolicy of all such attempts to denationalize the French. Generally speaking, they produce the opposite effect, causing the flame of national prejudice and animosity to burn more fiercely. But suppose them to be successful, what would be the result? You may perhaps _Americanize_, but, depend upon it, by methods of this description you will never _Anglicize_ the French inhabitants of the province. Let them feel, on the other hand, that their religion, their habits, their prepossessions, their prejudices if you will, are more considered and respected here than in other portions of this vast continent, and who will venture to say that the last hand which waves the British flag on American ground may not be that of a French Canadian?'




The frigate _Inconstant_, with Lord Durham on board, was not two days out from Quebec when rebellion broke out anew in Lower Canada. This second rebellion, however, was not caused by Lord Durham's departure, but was the result of a long course of agitation which had been carried on along the American border throughout the months of Lord Durham's regime.

As early as February 1838 numbers of Canadian refugees had gathered in the towns on the American side of the boundary-line in the neighbourhood of Lake Champlain. They were shown much sympathy and encouragement by the Americans, and seem to have laboured under the delusion that the American government would come to their a.s.sistance.

A proclamation signed by Robert Nelson, a brother of Wolfred Nelson, declared the independence of Canada under a {118} 'provisional government' of which Robert Nelson was president and Dr Cote a member.

The ident.i.ty of the other members is a mystery. Papineau seems to have had some dealings with Nelson and Cote, and to have dallied with the idea of throwing in his lot with them; but he soon broke off negotiations. 'Papineau,' wrote Robert Nelson, 'has abandoned us, and this through selfish and family motives regarding the seigniories, and inveterate love of the old French bad laws.' There is reason to believe, however, that Papineau had been in communication with the authorities at Washington, and that his desertion of Robert Nelson and Cote was in reality due to his discovery that President Van Buren was not ready to depart from his att.i.tude of neutrality.

On February 28, 1838, Robert Nelson and Cote had crossed the border with an armed force of French-Canadian refugees and three small field-pieces. Their plan had contemplated the capture of Montreal and a junction with another invading force at Three Rivers. But on finding their way barred by the Missisquoi militia, they had beat a hasty retreat to the border, without fighting; and had there been disarmed by the American {119} troops under General Wool, a brave and able officer who had fought with conspicuous gallantry at the battle of Queenston Heights in 1812.

During the summer months, however, the refugees had continued to lay plans for an insurrection in Lower Canada. Emissaries had been constantly moving among the parishes north of the New York and Vermont frontiers, promising the _Patriotes_ arms and supplies and men from the United States. The rising was carefully planned. And when November came large bodies of disaffected habitants gathered at St Ours, St Charles, St Michel, L'Acadie, Chateauguay, and Beauharnois. They had apparently been led to expect that they would be met at some of these places by American sympathizers with arms and supplies. No such aid being found at the rendezvous, many returned to their homes. But some persevered in the movement, and made their way with packs on their backs to Napierville, a town fifteen miles north of the boundary-line, which had been designated as the rebel headquarters.

Meanwhile, Robert Nelson had moved northward to Napierville from the American side of the border with a small band of refugees. {120} Among these were two French officers, named Hindenlang and Touvrey, who had been inveigled into joining the expedition. Hindenlang, who afterwards paid for his folly with his life, has left an interesting account of what happened. He and Touvrey joined Nelson at St Albans, on the west side of Lake Champlain. With two hundred and fifty muskets, which had been placed in a boat by an American sympathizer, they dropped down the river to the Canadian border. There were five in the party--Nelson and the two French officers, the guide, and the boatman. Nelson had given Hindenlang to understand that the habitants had risen and that he would be greeted at the Canadian border by a large force of enthusiastic recruits. In this, however, he was disappointed. 'There was not a single man to receive the famous President of the _Provisional Government_; and it was only after a full hour's search, and much trouble, [that] the guide returned with five or six men to land the arms.' On the morning of November 4 the party arrived at Napierville.

Here Hindenlang found Dr Cote already at the head of two or three hundred men. A crowd speedily gathered, and Robert Nelson was proclaimed 'President of the Republic of {121} Lower Canada.'

Hindenlang and Touvrey were presented to the crowd; and to his great astonishment Hindenlang was informed that his rank in the rebel force was that of brigadier-general.

The first two or three days were spent in hastening the arrival of reinforcements and in gathering arms. By the 7th Nelson had collected a force of about twenty-five hundred men, whom Hindenlang told off in companies and divisions. Most of the rebels were armed with pitchforks and pikes. An attempt had been made two days earlier, on a Sunday, to obtain arms, ammunition, and stores from the houses of the Indians of Caughnawaga while they were at church; but a squaw in search of her cow had discovered the raiders and had given the alarm, with the result that the Indians, seizing muskets and tomahawks, had repelled the attack and taken seventy prisoners.

On November 5 Nelson sent Cote with a force of four or five hundred men south to Rouse's Point, on the boundary-line, to secure more arms and ammunition from the American sympathizers. On his way south Cote encountered a picket of a company of loyalist volunteers stationed at Lacolle, and drove it {122} in. On his return journey, however, he met with greater opposition. The company at Lacolle had been reinforced in the meantime by several companies of loyalist militia from Hemmingford.

As the rebels appeared the loyalist militia attacked them; and after a brisk skirmish, which lasted from twenty to twenty-five minutes, drove them from the field. Without further ado the rebels fled across the border, leaving behind them eleven dead and a number of prisoners, as well as a six-pounder gun, a large number of muskets of the type used in the United States army, a keg of powder, a quant.i.ty of ball-cartridge, and a great many pikes. Of the provincial troops two were killed and one was severely wounded.

The defeat of Cote and his men at Lacolle meant that Nelson's line of communications with his base on the American frontier was cut. At the same time he received word that Sir John Colborne was advancing on Napierville from Laprairie with a strong force of regulars and volunteers. Under these circ.u.mstances he determined to fall back on Odelltown, just north of the border. He had with him about a thousand men, eight hundred of whom were armed with muskets. {123} He arrived at Odelltown on the morning of November 9, to find it occupied by about two hundred loyal militia, under the command of the inspecting field-officer of the district, Lieutenant-Colonel Taylor. He had no difficulty in driving in the loyalist outposts; but the village itself proved a harder nut to crack. Taylor had concentrated his little force at the Methodist church, and he controlled the road leading to it by means of the six-pounder which had been taken from the rebels three days before at Lacolle. The insurgents extended through the fields to the right and left, and opened a vigorous fire on the church from behind some barns; but many of the men seem to have kept out of range.

'The greater part of the Canadians kept out of shot,' wrote Hindenlang; 'threw themselves on their knees, with their faces buried in the snow, praying to G.o.d, and remaining as motionless as if they were so many saints, hewn in stone. Many remained in that posture as long as the fighting lasted.' The truth appears to be that many of Nelson's men had been intimidated into joining the rebel force. The engagement lasted in all about two hours and a half. The defenders of the church made several successful sallies; and just when the {124} rebels were beginning to lose heart, a company of loyalists from across the Richelieu fell on their flank and completed their discomfiture. The rebels then retreated to Napierville, under the command of Hindenlang.

Robert Nelson, seeing that the day was lost, left his men in the lurch and rode for the American border. The losses of the rebels were serious; they left fifty dead on the field and carried off as many wounded. Of the loyalists, one officer and five men were killed and one officer and eight men wounded.

Later in the same day Sir John Colborne, at the head of a formidable force, entered Napierville. On his approach those rebels who were still in the village dispersed and fled to their homes. Detachments of troops were immediately sent out to disperse bands of rebels reported to be still under arms. The only encounter took place at Beauharnois, where a large body of insurgents had a.s.sembled. After a slight resistance they were driven out by two battalions of Glengarry volunteers, supported by two companies of the 71st and a detachment of Royal Engineers.

In these expeditions the British soldiers, especially the volunteers, did a good deal of burning and harrying. After the victory at {125} Beauharnois they gave to the flames a large part of the village, including the houses of some loyal citizens. In view of the intimidation and depredations to which the loyalists had been subjected by the rebels in the disaffected districts, the conduct of the men, in these regrettable acts, may be understood and partially excused. But no excuse can be offered for the att.i.tude of the British authorities.

There are well-authenticated cases of houses of 'notorious rebels'

burned down by the orders of Sir James Macdonell, Colborne's second-in-command. Colborne himself acquired the nickname of 'the old Firebrand'; and, while he cannot be charged with such a mania for incendiarism as some writers have imputed to him, it does not appear that he took any effective measures to stop the arson or to punish the offenders.

The rebellion of 1838 lasted scarcely a week. It was a venture criminally hopeless. Failing important aid from the United States, the rebels had an even slighter chance of success than they had had a year before, for since that time the British regular troops in Canada had been considerably increased in number. The chief responsibility for the rebellion must be placed at the door of Robert Nelson, who at {126} the critical moment fled over the border, leaving his dupes to extricate themselves as best they could from the situation into which he had led them. As was the case in 1837, most of the leaders of the rebellion escaped from justice, leaving only the smaller fry in the hands of the authorities. Of the lesser ringleaders nearly one hundred were brought to trial. Two of the French-Canadian judges, one of them being Elzear Bedard, attempted to force the government to try the prisoners in the civil courts, where they would have the benefit of trial by jury; but Sir John Colborne suspended these judges from their functions, and brought the prisoners before a court-martial, specially convened for the purpose. Twelve of them, including the French officer Hindenlang, were condemned to death and duly executed. Most of the others were transported to the convict settlements of Australia. It is worthy of remark that none of those executed or deported had been persons of note in the political arena before 1837. On the whole, it must be confessed that these sentences showed a commendable moderation.

It was thought necessary that a few examples should be made, as Lord Durham's amnesty of the previous year had evidently encouraged some {127} habitants to believe that rebellion was a venial offence. And the execution of twelve men, out of the thousands who had taken part in the revolt, cannot be said to have shown a bloodthirsty disposition on the part of the government.




The rebellion of 1837 now belongs to the dead past. The _Patriotes_ and the 'Bureaucrats' of those days have pa.s.sed away; and the present generation has forgotten, or should have forgotten, the pa.s.sions which inspired them. The time has come when Canadians should take an impartial view of the events of that time, and should be willing to recognize the good and the bad on either side. It is absurd to pretend that many of the English in Lower Canada were not arrogant and brutal in their att.i.tude toward the French Canadians, and lawless in their methods of crushing the rebellion; or that many of the _Patriote_ leaders were not hopelessly irreconcilable before the rebellion, and during it criminally careless of the interests of the poor habitants they had misled. On the other hand, no true Canadian can fail to be proud of the spirit of loyalty which in 1837 {129} actuated not only persons of British birth, but many faithful sons and daughters of the French-Canadian Church. Nor can one fail to admire the devotion to liberty, to 'the rights of the people,' which characterized rebels like Robert Bouchette. 'When I speak of the rights of the people,' wrote Bouchette, 'I do not mean those abstract or extravagant rights for which some contend, but which are not generally compatible with an organized state of society, but I mean those cardinal rights which are inherent to British subjects, and which, as such, ought not to be denied to the inhabitants of any section of the empire, however remote.' The people of Canada to-day are able to combine loyalty and liberty as the men of that day were not; and they should never forget that in some measure they owe to the one party the continuance of Canada in the Empire, and to the other party the freedom wherewith they have been made free.

[Ill.u.s.tration: Denis Benjamin Viger. From a print in M'Gill University Library.]

The later history of the _Patriotes_ falls outside the scope of this little book, but a few lines may be added to trace their varying fortunes. Some of them never returned to Canada. Robert Nelson took up his abode in New York, and there practised surgery until {130} his death in 1873. E. B. O'Callaghan went to Albany, and was there employed by the legislature of New York in preparing two series of volumes ent.i.tled _A Doc.u.mentary History of New York_ and _Doc.u.ments relating to the Colonial History of the State of New York_, volumes which are edited in so scholarly a manner, and throw such light on Canadian history, that the Canadian historian would fain forgive him for his part in the unhappy rebellion of '37.

Most of the _Patriote_ leaders took advantage, however, of the virtual amnesty offered them in 1842 by the first LaFontaine-Baldwin administration, and returned to Canada. Many of these, as well as many of the _Patriote_ leaders who had not been implicated in the rebellion and who had not fled the country, rose to positions of trust and prominence in the public service of Canada. Louis Hippolyte LaFontaine, after having gone abroad during the winter of 1837-38, and after having been arrested on suspicion in November 1838, entered the parliament of Canada, formed, with Robert Baldwin as his colleague, the administration which ushered in full responsible government, and was knighted by Queen Victoria. Augustin Morin, the reputed author {131} of the Ninety-Two Resolutions, who had spent the winter of 1837-38 in hiding, became the colleague of Francis Hincks in the Hincks-Morin administration. George etienne Cartier, who had shouldered a musket at St Denis, became the lifelong colleague of Sir John Macdonald and was made a baronet by his sovereign. Dr Wolfred Nelson returned to his practice in Montreal in 1842. In 1844 he was elected member of parliament for the county of Richelieu. In 1851 he was appointed an inspector of prisons. Thomas Storrow Brown, on his return to Montreal, took up again his business in hardware, and is remembered to-day by Canadian numismatists as having been one of the first to issue a halfpenny token, which bore his name and is still sought by collectors.

Robert Bouchette recovered from the serious wound he had sustained at Moore's Corners, and later became Her Majesty's commissioner of customs at Ottawa.

Papineau returned to Canada in 1845. The greater part of his period of exile he spent in Paris, where he came in touch with the 'red republicans' who later supported the revolution of 1848. He entered the Canadian parliament in 1847 and sat in it until 1854. {132} But he proved to be completely out of harmony with the new order of things under responsible government. Even with his old lieutenant LaFontaine, who had made possible his return to Canada, he had an open breach. The truth is that Papineau was born to live in opposition. That he himself realized this is clear from a laughing remark which he made when explaining his late arrival at a meeting: 'I waited to take an opposition boat.' His real importance after his return to Canada lay not in the parliamentary sphere, but in the encouragement which he gave to those radical and anti-clerical ideas that found expression in the foundation of the _Inst.i.tut Canadien_ and the formation of the _Parti Rouge_. In many respects the _Parti Rouge_ was the continuation of the _Patriote_ party of 1837. Papineau's later days were quiet and dignified. He retired to his seigneury of La Pet.i.te Nation at Montebello and devoted himself to his books. With many of his old antagonists he effected a pleasant reconciliation. Only on rare occasions did he break his silence; but on one of these, when he came to Montreal, an old silver-haired man of eighty-one years, to deliver an address before the _Inst.i.tut Canadien_, he uttered a sentence which may be taken as {133} the _apologia pro vita sua_: 'You will believe me, I trust, when I say to you, I love my country.... Opinions outside may differ; but looking into my heart and my mind in all sincerity, I feel I can say that I have loved her as she should be loved.' And charity covereth a mult.i.tude of sins.