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FORMATION OF A GOVERNMENT.
able on Michaelmas day, five years after the date of their respective grants, while the other half was to have been postponed for twenty years. Government, desirous of promoting the settlement of the island, acceded to the proposal. In 1770 a governor and other officers arrived, but the quit rents paid in the following five years were not sufficient to defray their salaries for two years. At this time there were not more than 150 families and five proprietors on the island. After ten years little was done: a few conscientious and enterprising persons acted up to the terms of their conditions ; but the greater number shamefully neglected the duties which they had undertaken, thus throwing the burthen on those who were the least deserving of bearing it. If all the grantees had acted together, the result would have been good—a fine and thriving settlement would have been almost immediately formed : but, as it happened, nothing could be more unfavourable for the colony. Those who located themselves were almost ruined in endeavouring to sustain a load so unjustly imposed on them : in some instances poor settlers were landed in different parts of the island, afar from any other inhabitants, and without provi. sions or preparations. Many, therefore, abandoned the place in disgust, and spread unfavourable reports of the colony, thus retarding its settlement.
When the island was erected into a separate government, the representative of the sovereign was
1 Among the number who thus acted was Sir James Montgomery, then Lord Chief Baron of the Scotch Court of Exchequer.
authorised to summon a general assembly, as soon as he should deem the island sufficiently settled for the same. Accordingly, in 1773, the first representative legislature met, as in the other colonies, and has ever since continued to sit. In 1776, it being found that the few proprietors who paid their quitrents did not contribute a sufficient sum to pay the expenses of the government, and the governor being unwilling to proceed against the defaulters, who were generally persons of rank and influence in England, an application was made to parliament for an annual grant to defray the civil expenditure, which application was complied with.
In November 1775, two armed American cruizers, taking advantage of the defenceless state of the island, landed at Charlotte Town, plundered it, and carried off the acting Governor, a member of the council, and the Surveyor-General; but on the Commander proceeding to the American head-quarters, they were rebuked by General Washington, told they had done those things which they ought not to have done, and left undone what it was their duty to have done,' and dismissed their commands; while the prisoners were instantly set free, with many polite expressions of regret for their sufferings, and the plundered property was all honourably restored.
It is a pleasing duty to record so magnanimous an act, which is quite in unison with the noble character of Washington.
It would occupy too much of my rapidly contracting allotment of space to detail the various measures respecting the quit-rents which took place during
the administrations of Lieutenant-Governor Paterson and Fanning. His late Royal Highness the Duke of Kent (whose name the island now bears), while Commander-in-Chief in Nova Scotia, paid the most marked attention to the colony, organized the formation of some provincial troops, cavalry and infantry, and the erection of some batteries for the better protection of the town and harbour of Charlotte Town; the result of which was, that during the war the colony was unmolested by any enemy. It was at this period that the name of the island was changed from St. John's to Prince Edward's, partly in compliment to one who, whether in the colonies or in England, ever proved himself the most generous philanthropist; and partly because the old name of the island was found very inconvenient, from several places in North America having the same appellation, through which letters, &c. frequently never reached their right destination.
In 1801 the arrears of quit-rents had amounted to 59,1621. ; in many instances more than the townships would now sell for, if put up by auction. Government, therefore, determined to accept of a moderate composition, which should fall lightest on those who had made the most efforts to settle their lands. With these views the townships, in quit-rent arrears, were thrown into five classes : first, those which had the full number of people required by the terms of settlement were only required to pay four years' quit-rent, in lieu of all arrears from 1769 to 1801 ; secondly, those with half the population, five years' quit-rent, in lieu of all demands; thirdly,
those with from a quarter to half, nine years' quitrents; fourthly, those with less than a quarter of the required population (100 souls on each township, the area being 20,000 acres), twelve years' quitrents; and fifthly, those which were totally waste and uninhabited were called on to pay fifteen years' quit-rents in lieu of all due from 1769 to 1801, i.e. less than half of their dues. The liberal terms of this composition, by freeing the land from heavy claims, had an almost instantaneous effect on the prosperity of the island, which now made rapid strides in population and social comfort.
Some proprietors, it is true, did not avail themselves of this commutation, and waited for easier terms; it became, therefore, necessary to proceed against them, and in 1804 judgment was obtained by the Receiver-General of the quit-rents against ten townships, five half-ditto and one-third ditto, which were escheated to the Crown for non-payment of the quit-rents. It is much to be regretted that the quitrents were not annually exacted, instead of thus being allowed to accumulate ; had such been the case the settlement of the island would have been more rapidly extended, as every man holding land would endeavour to make the quit-rents as little burthensome as possible, by improving its culture instead of leaving it a useless waste.
The House of Assembly of the colony, at the close of the session of 1833, moved and carried by twelve to two, an address to his Majesty, offering to provide the whole civil expenses of the island; and for the purpose of raising a fund to secure a moderate per
manent civil list, the representatives of the people propose to abolish the system of quit-rents entirely, and substitute instead an annual tax on land (at the rate of 4s. 6d. for every hundred acres in the township), to go into operation in four years from the date of the address, when the present land assessment will expire. The Assembly thinks that an annual tax on unimproved lands will compel those who have large tracts now lying waste, either to improve them, or sell them to those who will do so.
PHYSICAL ASPECT-TERRITORIAL DIVISIONS-COAST LINE
CHIEF TOWNS-GEOLOGY-SOIL AND CLIMATE.
The general appearance of Prince Edward's Island is extremely picturesque, though destitute of those bold and, in many instances, romantic features that characterise several parts of the adjacent continent; in general the surface rises as in New Brunswick, into gentle undulations, without any absolutely flat country, but no where reaching the elevation of mountains; the principal high lands being a chain of hills, traversing the island nearly north and south from De Sable to Grenville Bay; with this exception there are few inequalities to interfere with the ordinary agriculture, to the pursuit of which even a sailor is attracted, by the rich verdure which clothes the country to the water's edge.