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IT is the object of the following Letters to give some account of the Colonial Policy of the Administration in which I held the office of Secretary of State for the Colonial Department. I have not attempted more than a very slight sketch of the transactions to which these pages relate, yet much more time and labour have been occupied in writing them than I anticipated when they were begun, chiefly, from my having found it necessary to examine minutely the voluminous papers laid before Parliament, from which the materials have been principally drawn. The completion of the task which I ventured to undertake has also been delayed by various interruptions from other avocations, so that
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these pages will be published some months later than they were intended to appear.
I am sensible that this must somewhat detract from any value they may possess; for the progress of events is so rapid in the times in which we live, that even the delay of a few months has made more than one material change in the aspect of affairs, and my remarks will consequently be found in these cases to have reference to a state of things which has since been altered. Instead of attempting to correct what I had written, so as to make it correspond with more recent information, I have thought it better to affix to each of these Letters the date at which it was finished, and in reading them I would request that these dates may be borne in mind.
I have spoken of the Colonial Policy described in the following Letters as that of the Administration of which I was a member, because I conceive it to have been so both constitutionally and in fact; but I am far from desiring by this to diminish my own responsibility. Though the Secretary of State entrusted with the Department of the Colonies receives much assistance from his Colleagues, and though the most important measures which it is his duty to carry into effect ought to
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be decided upon with their advice and concurrence, still the main responsibility for all errors that are committed properly rests with him.
Nor does any portion of this responsibility fall upon those by whose assistance the business of the Department is conducted. It has often been asserted that there is some mysterious influence within the walls of the Colonial Office, which under every different Secretary of State prevents what is right from being done, and causes disappointment and discontent to the Colonists, and persons connected with the Colonies, who have business to transact with the Department. Nothing can be more unfounded than such a notion. Those who have observed with attention the administration of Colonial affairs for the last five-and-twenty years will, I am persuaded, agree with me in thinking that it is much more justly chargeable with want of steadiness and consistency, from the inevitable differences in the views of successive Secretaries of State, than with an obstinate adherence under them all, to the same erroneous system. No doubt there are many demands urgently pressed upon the Department which have been successively rejected by different Secretaries of State; but this only shows that these demands are so unreasonable that
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they are alike rejected by men of the most opposite political views, when they are required to decide upon them with full information and with official responsibility.
I am glad to have this opportunity of saying, that while I shall always feel most deeply indebted to the gentlemen holding permanent situations in the Colonial Office, for the exceedingly able and willing assistance I received from them in conducting its business while I presided over it, I can assert, in the most positive manner, that never upon any occasion was there on their part the slightest attempt improperly to influence my decision upon questions brought before me, or to withhold the best aid they could afford, in the execution of measures which may have been decided upon contrary to their opinion. Having mentioned the permanent members of the Colonial Office, I cannot deny myself the satisfaction of expressing my regard and esteem for those who were my Parliamentary Under-Secretaries. I should indeed be most ungrateful if I could ever forget how much I owe to Mr. Hawes for his unwearied assiduity, and the friendly zeal with which he shared with me, not only the ordinary labours of the Department, but the cares and anxieties of five most toilsome and
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harassing Sessions of Parliament, during which I consulted him unreservedly upon every question that arose, and derived the greatest benefit from his advice and assistance. With Mr. Peel my official connection was very much shorter, having lasted only about four months; but this was quite long enough for me to form a very high opinion of his abilities, and to feel much indebted to him for the anxiety he displayed to give his best assistance in conducting the business of the Department, and in preparing to meet the anticipated difficulties of the Parliamentary campaign, which was so speedily cut short by the breaking up of the Administration.
I have nothing further to add in the way of Preface, except to call attention to what I have said in the concluding Letter of the series, as to the information I have thought it right to make use of. If I had felt justified in availing myself of information of a more confidential character, it would not have been difficult to make my account of some of the transactions referred to more complete than it is, and probably more interesting to the reader. It was however obviously my duty to abstain from disclosing information not already public, of which I had come into possession in the discharge of my duties as a Servant of the Crown;
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and I trust that whatever may be the other faults of these Letters (and I am painfully sensible that they have many), they are at least free from that which would justly have been regarded as an unpardonable one--a departure from the reserve imposed upon me by the office I had the honour to fill.
DECEMBER 28, 1852.
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COLONIAL POLICY.--PRELIMINARY REMARKS.--EFFECT OF FREE TRADE ON THE COLONIES ... 1
THE SUGAR COLONIES GENERALLY .... 50
MAURITIUS.--ST. LUCIA.--TRINIDAD ... 98
GUIANA.--JAMAICA.--BARBADOES .... 143
BRITISH NORTH AMERICA.--CANADA . . . 200
LOWER PROVINCES OF BRITISH NORTH AMERICA.--NEWFOUNDLAND ...... 274
AUSTRALIAN COLONIES.--SALE OF LAND.--EMIGRATION 303
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A.--List of Officers appointed to the Government of Colonies, by Lord Grey ..... 349
B.--Correspondence relative to the reduction of Military Force ........ 353
C.--Recapitulation of Measures relating to the Sugar Colonies ........ 367
D.--Tables of Import and Consumption of Sugar .. 390
E.--Mauritius--Address to Governor Higginson, and His Excellency's Reply ..... 392
F.--British Guiana--Tables of Produce ... 402
G.--Extracts from Reports of Select Committees, etc., relating to the West Indies .... 404
H.--Jamaica--Despatches to Sir C. Grey ... 409
I.--Report of Privy Council--Constitution for the Australian Colonies ....... 422