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century, the estates of the Jesuits were secularized ; the presence of Bishop Mountain was an excuse why no other bishop should be recognized; the good will of Ryland towards the oppression of the Catholics could always be counted on: and the general peace of the times made everything favorable towards effecting a settlement of a question that, for forty years, had given abundance of trouble whenever it was broached.
In 1801, the Governor, Sir Robert Shore Milnes, finding the popular influence too strong for the sort of government that then prevailed in the Colony, brought the causes of it under the notice of the Duke of Portland. One of these causes was “the independence of the whole body of the Roman Catholic clergy, who are accountable to no other authority than that of their own bishop. His Grace, in reply, directs his subordinate in this fashion:
“With respect to the Roman Catholic clergy being totally independent of the governor, I must first observe that I am not at all aware of the causes that have led to a disregard of that part of the King's Instructions, which require that no person, whatever, is to have Holy Orders conferred upon him, or to have care of souls, without license first had or obtained from the Governor. The resumption and exercise of that power by the Governor, and the producing such a license as a requisite for admission to Holy Orders, I hold not only to be of the first importance, but so indispensably necessary that I must call upon you to endeavor to effect it by every possible means which prudence can suggest. You will, therefore, readily conclude that I must see with pleasure your proposal of increasing the allowance to the Catholic Bishop, adopted almost to any extent, if it can prove the means of restoring to the king's representative in Canada, that power and control which are essentially necessary to his authority, and which is expressly laid down by the forty-fourth article of your Instructions, above alluded to."
The Governor, having at this time a quarrel on his hands with the Chief Justice Osgoode, was unable to devote much attention to the Catholics,' and, at that time also, the Rectors of the Protes
1 No reader of Mr. Parkman can fail to have observed with what avidity the learned historian seizes on the small scandals of the French Régime, dwelling with relish on the petty quarrels of the governor, the intendant and the bishop. Should he think well of turning his attention to the first fifty years of British rule in Canada, he will find scandals more in keeping with the dignity of his subject. It will be no longer a question between the bishop and the governor as to which one of them is en. titled to the first obeisance of the schoolchildren; nor need the historian concern himself with deciding what petty functionary is to have precedence in the place of honor in the church. Much graver material is at hand. There was not one chiefjustice, within the period referred to, that was not reported against, or impeached, or
tant Church were in need of increased salaries, and official correspondence is mainly taken up with such matters. A letter, bearing the initials H. W. R., and no doubt written by Secretary H. W. Ryland, appeared in 1804, respecting Church establishments :
“ The Protestant Church,” he says, "ought to have as much splendor, and as little power as possible.
"I would, therefore, give to the Bishopric of Quebec a Dean, a Chapter, and all other ecclesiastical dignitaries necessary for show, and I would endow the See with sufficient lands to support this establishment in the most liberal manner; but not one grain of civil power would I give to the Clergy, beyond the walls of their churches or church-yards.”
It is not to be expected after this that Mr. Ryland would be very tolerant of what he calls the Popish Clergy. He says: “I have long laid it down as a principle (which in my judgment no governor of this Province ought to lose sight of for a moment) by every possible means which prudence can suggest gradually to undermine the authority and influence of the Roman Catholic priests. This great, this highest object that a governor here can have, might, I am confident, have been accomplished before now, and may, by judicious management, be accomplished before ten years more shall have passed over.” He then sets out his plan for education, for Superintendents" by the King's (not the Pope's) letters-patent," and the licensing of those having the charge of souls ; "and these instructions once followed up, the king's supremacy would be established, the authority of the Pope would be abolished, and the country would become Protestant."
These views of the zealous official were propagated with great assiduity, and the more so, as at that very time Bishop Denaut was at the point of death, and the power and standing of his successor a matter likely then to be determined. Mr. Ryland failed, however. On the 26th of January, 1806, M. Plessis was to be admitted to the Council, and Ryland writes to his own bishop that, “ to his infinite grief, vexation and disappointment, the President (Mr. Dunn) has determined to admit Mr. Plessis to take the oaths in Council to-morrow." On the following day he wrote: “Mr. Dunn, having determined to admit Mr. Plessis to take and subscribe the oath as Bishop of Quebec, and by his special direction, this title has been entered on the minutes.” On the 3d of the following month, Mr. Ryland was fairly beside himself with rage when, in like manner, "the Reverend Mr. Panet" took the oath as coadjutor of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Quebec.
dismissed from office: Gregory, Hey, Livius, Smith, Osgoode, Sewell, Monk. The governors reported against judges and attorney-generals, and vice versa, and, in a couple of instances, the governors were cited before the courts, and obliged to desend themselves. The first chief-justice, Garneau says, was taken out of a prison to be placed at the head of the courts, and one of his successors is, on the same authority, said to have been an illegitimate son of George III.
The new bishop, however, found himself surrounded with many difficulties, not the least of which were certain requests or petitions presented to the king and the governor, by his predecessor, Mgr. Denaut, praying for civil existence to the clergy of Canada. These seemed necessary at the time, as the civil courts had refused them recognition. Ryland, the watchful secretary, had communicated this to Mr. Peel, the then Under-secretary of State for the Colonies. Ryland and the Protestant Bishop, Dr. Mountain, had gone to England to advance the Protestant and Episcopal cause, but with only a small measure of success. “I endeavored to give Mr. Peel a clear and correct conception of these matters," complains Mr. Ryland, “God knows with what success!” Writing to Sir James Craig, the new governor, the secretary says: “One particular, however, in the course of our conversation, struck me, and I think it necessarily deserving of notice. It is, that, when I observed to Mr. Peel that you had with you all the English inhab:tants, and, consequently, all the commercial interest of the country, he remarked that the Canadians were much more numerous; and he repeated the same remark more than once in a way that indicated a fear of doing anything that might clash with the prejudices of the more numerous part of the community, and this, if my · apprehensions are well founded, will be the great difficulty in the way
of decided and effectual measures." Mr. Ryland's apprehensions were well founded. Three days later he had another interview in which he “availed himself of the opportunity to say a few words concerning the character of Mr. Plessis "; and in the course of this interview he managed to give a bad character to most of the Canadian officials. Every week thereafter this indefatigable secretary pursued the unfortunate Mr. Peel, but without making substantial progress.
. “I was mortified” he says “to find that he has but an imperfect idea of the subject.” He was subsequently told that the subject of his concern would be made a cabinet measure, and a meeting of the cabinet was called in which Lord Liverpool discussed every phase of colonial government, except that of the colonial church. In the course of a month, a formal state paper issued from Downing street, but it contained not the remotest reference to the Bishop or the Supremacy. Mr. Ryland, not disheartened by this, prepared a special memorandum in regard “to the proposed assumption of the patronage of the Romish Church,” and called later on Mr. Peel about it. “He admitted me the moment I sent up my name."
Ryland describes it, “but he appeared very different from what I have been accustomed to see him.
* He seemed quite distrait, and I did not stay with him above two minutes."
The reader need not be wearied with the pertinacity with which everything anti-Catholic was pressed on the King's ministers. The law officers of the crown in July, 1801, had reported on the Sulpicians's estates in Montreal, and also on the question “Whether the right of presentation to vacant Roman Catholics living in the province of Canada be in the crown?” The answers were unfavcrable to the Church and to the Seminarians. The lawyers in the course of a long report admit the possessory right of the Sulpicians and the impropriety of disturbing them; and as to the other question they say: "We think therefore that so much of the patronage of the Roman Catholic benefices as was exercised by the Bishop under the French Government is now vested in His Majesty”-His Majesty George III. No answer was given to the chief difficulty, which, however, was settled in Canada by the force of circumstances.
In 1775, as the Abbé Ferland says, “Sir Guy Carleton declared publicly that if the Province of Quebec had been preserved to Great Britain, it was owing to the Catholic clergy. He testified his gratitude by allowing the Bishop to exercise his functions peaceably, and to dispose of the cures at his will without having recourse to the Royal instructions, which seemed to him to have been prepared only for the destruction of the Catholic religion.” The obligations to the clergy seem to have been forgotten as soon as the services of the clergy were no longer necessary; but when the war of 1812 began, the clergy became important once more. In the interval the governors had tried the methods of persuasion, of bribes and of threats, and in all they were unsuccessful. “They offer the Bishop an estate and revenues,” says Mgr. Plessis in 1806; “haec omnia tibi dabo si cadens adoraveris me. ." In the preceding year, Attorney-General Sewell had discussed the situation with the Bishop, in the course of which the former said:
“The government, acknowledging your religion, and avowing its officers to be officers of the crown, should provide for them as for all others. The Bishop should have enough to enable him to live in a splendor suitable to his rank; and a coadjutor also in proportion."
To which the Bishop replied: “I do not wish to see the Bishop in splendor, but, I wish to see him above want. I do not wish to see him in the Legislative or Executive Councils, but as an ecclesiastic, solely entitled to the rank which is due to him in society.” The threats came later and deserve a more extended notice. A year or so prior to the war of 1812, Bishop Plessis had issued a
Mandcment on the occasion of the imprisonment of Pope Pius VII., in which he invited the faithful to pray for the Holy Father. He styled himself Bishop of Quebec, as had been the custom at all times in Canada. This offended the Anglican Bishop, Dr. Mountain, and offended the civil authorities as well. “We have been praying for the deliverance of the Pope here," writes the Governor, Sir James Craig, to his secretary, Ryland, who was then in England; and the governor enclosed a copy of the offending pastoral—"as an instance of the complete independence which is assumed.” The worthy Ryland submitted a case to the crown officers and asked if the Rev. Mr. Plessis did not render himself liable to a criminal prosecution thereon. The officers of the crown, however, paid no attention to the matter, and it was completely overlooked by the ministry.
A reference to one other circumstance immediately after this will be sufficient to show the perilous position of the Church at this time. The Governor and the Bishop in the course of a lengthy conversation on the whole case laid open the aims and claims of the conflicting Church and State. This conversation has been preserved in two versions and is of considerable importance. It was the last scene before the curtain fell.
The Bishop, writing to his Vicar-general (Roux), says: “I had yesterday a conversation with His Excellency the Governor, which lasted one hour and three quarters, in which he exhausted himself, and me also, in speaking, without our being able to fall into accord upon the only point that was agitated, to wit: the nomination of curés. He viewed it obstinately as a civil affair, and as a prerogative of the Crown which it would never abandon, and which he maintained had been exercised from all time by the Kings of France and England, even before the Reformation of the Church in the latter kingdom. I tried to make him understand the essential difference between the patronage exercised over certain benefices, whether by the king or by private persons, and the canonical institution, which could only proceed from the Church, and without which all the commissions or nominations of sovereigns and other patrons, would be of no effect.”
The Bishop in conclusion says: “ That having done as much as my predecessors for the service of Government, I expressed a hope that the Governor did not desire to treat me worse than my predecessors; and further, that I would try more and more to deserve his protection, not so much for myself as for the faithful, in whose salvation I interested myself; that divine Providence would bring, without doubt, more favorable circumstances, etc. We disputed much, but the Governor was not angry, and we parted at last, little satisfied with each other."