« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
of the district; there was no further resistance. Many loyalists had fled from St. Eustache and the Rivière du Chêne, during the brief power of the insurgents, suffering much insult and hardship. When the wheel turned, these injuries were revenged in the blackened hearths of the defeated ; though the soldiery exerted themselves to the utmost to save the villages, and partially succeeded.
The three principal newspapers employed in spreading the disaffection, vanished at the first outbreak, as did also the great leader of their party in the house of assembly : he, in after times, expressed the strongest disapprobation of these scenes of violence and danger; and, while they were being enacted, gave a proof of his dislike to them quite convincing to his followers, by keeping his own person out of their reach. Many of his admirers, no doubt, when flying from the law or mounting the scaffold, regretted very much that they had not imitated his later proceedings as implicitly as they had acted on the plain tendencies of his principles. The next time he was heard of, he was safely settled in the State of New York. Perhaps, if the insurrection had terminated successfully, he might at length have overcome his horror of the bloodshed which purchased it. His ardent patriotism might have urged him to sacrifice his
own feelings to the public good, and “ La Nation Canadienne” might have had the benefit of the future services of its peaceful hero.
The troubles in Canada caused great excitement among a certain class of men in the United States : some, with a sincere love for freedom, and very many others with a still sincerer love for plunder, were moved to assist their Canadian neighbours, whom they called “ The Patriots.” These sympathizers assembled in large bodies, principally threatening the upper province. They thought it an excellent opportunity for playing the game in which their countrymen have succeeded in Texas ; their opponents being English, instead of Mexican, spoiled the parallel. “The sympathizers,”—what soft and kindly ideas the name they assumed suggests ! Tearful eyes and cambric handkerchiefs, good-Samaritan acts of tenderness and charity, soothing words of consolation. Not so to themtheir sympathy was given in the midnight assassins' bloody knife, in the torch of the merciless incendiary, in the ransacking hand of the rapacious robber.
Upper Canada was not without its hero: a man named William Lyon Mackenzie, the editor of a republican newspaper at Toronto, laid aside the pen and seized the sword; he assembled about five or six hundred men at a place called Montgomerie's
Tavern, four miles from the town, on the evening of the 4th of December, with the intention of entering in the night. As soon as this decided step was taken, they arrested every one on the roads, to prevent intelligence being carried to the Governor, Sir Francis Head.
Colonel Moodie, a worthy veteran, and three of his friends, were unfortunately seen riding towards Toronto; he was fired at from the Tavern; fell, wounded in two places, and in a few hours was dead. The leader then harangued his followers, telling them that as blood had been shed there was now no retreat, and persuading them to advance. The authorities were perfectly aware of the approaching danger; but, confident in the loyalty of the great majority of the inhabitants, Sir Francis Head had sent all the troops to the lower province at the first news of the outbreak there. The insurgents, styling themselves a provincial convention, published proclamations, calling on the people to rise and free themselves; in terms of blasphemous hypocrisy using the name of God to urge them to break God's law.
Some loyal volunteers manned the city hall, and orders were given to the militia to assemble immediately. During the night, nothing occurred but
a slight skirmish, in which the insurgents were worsted. The next day the governor had mustered sufficient strength to attack, but first made an effort to bring the deluded people to reason without the loss of life. In the mean time his opponent had seized the mail, and imprisoned several inoffensive individuals. A number of horses were also pressed for his service, and a neighbour's house was burned. Flushed with these achievements, the attempts of the peace-makers were useless.
On the 7th of December, Colonel Mc Nab, with a party of militia, marched from Toronto and attacked the tavern; the defenders, who were armed with rifles, made a short resistance and fled; their leaders, as the governor quaintly describes it, “in a state of the greatest agitation ran away.” A good many prisoners were taken, but immediately afterwards contemptuously dismissed.
The news of this rebellious movement had at once roused the indignation of the masses of the population; from ten to twelve thousand men immediately crowded to Toronto, to give their services to the law. The day after its termination a public notice informed them that there was no occasion for their services in that place, and the
forces of the Eastern districts were allowed to turn towards Lower Canada.
In the mean time, the ex-editor had escaped in disguise to Buffalo, in the United States, where, by the story of his wrongs, and by promises, he succeeded in collecting a force of sympathizing Americans, who plundered the state arsenals of cannon, arms, and ammunition, and took possession of Navy Island, a little above the Falls of Niagara, on the 13th of December.
Supplied with stores and provisions from Buffalo, they threw up works, and threatened the opposite shore. Very few Canadians joined them. Proclamations from the Provisional Government were published from this place, offering a hundred dollars, and three hundred acres of land, in their future conquests, to every volunteer. Five hundred pounds were offered for the apprehension of the English Governor, the rebels stating that all the wealth and resources of the country would speedily be at their disposal.
They opened a fire of artillery upon the houses of the peaceable inhabitants of the Canada shore, but without doing much injury: a body of militia watched their movements defensively. On the 28th of December, the steamer Caroline,