|Sir Isaac Brock|
QUEBEC, March 19, 1812.
I regret to find by your late letters to Sir George Prevost, that your expectations from your legislature have not been realised to the extent of your well grounded hopes. Sir George, who is well versed in the fickle and untractable disposition of public assemblies, feels more regret than disappointment.
He has a very delicate card to play with his house of assembly here, who would fain keep up the farce of being highly charmed and delighted with his amiable disposition and affable manners: they have even gone the length of asserting, that these traits in his character have afforded them the most entire confidence that in his hands the alien act would not be abused. They have, however, taken the precaution of stripping it of its very essence and spirit, while last year they passed it without a division, when Sir James, (Craig,) on whose mild and affable disposition they did not pretend to rely, told them that it could only alarm such as were conscious of harbouring seditious designs. They have passed an amendment to the militia bill, which, though not affording all that was required, is still a material point gained. 2,000 men are to be ballotted to serve for three months in two successive summers; one of their strongest objections was the apprehension of the Canadians contracting military habits and enlisting into the service.
Sir George has directed me to inform you, that he will be ready to render you any assistance in his power to strengthen the Upper Province; but that unless reinforcements arrive from England, (in which case you may depend upon having a due proportion put under your immediate command,) his means of doing so are but very limited. His excellency is not sanguine in his expectation of receiving reinforcements this summer; on the contrary, the appearance of hostilities beginning to abate at Washington, and the pledge held out in the prince regent's speech of supporting with energy the contest in Spain and Portugal, are likely to prevent troops being sent to this quarter, unless a more urgent necessity of doing so should appear. I will not comment on American politics, in which we all appear to agree that the deep-rooted jealousy and hatred of that people must in the end lead to hostilities, and that it behoves us not to lose sight of an event which, if not prepared to meet, we shall find more difficult to repel;--under this impression, Sir George is disposed to promote the several plans you have recommended to him, relating to the general line of conduct you would wish to adopt in the defence of the important province committed to your charge. If no additional forces be sent out, he will send up the strong detachment of the 41st, composed of uncommonly fine young men, and in very good order: the general has it also in view to send you a strong detachment of the Newfoundland regiment, selecting their seamen and marine artificers, who will be most useful in the proposed works to be carried on at York; and here I am apprehensive that the means of augmenting your strength must be bounded, unless the Glengary Levy can be rapidly formed, and Sir George is sanguine in his expectations of its being speedily placed upon a respectable footing: in that case, it could occupy Kingston and that line of communication between the provinces, which you deem so essential to be guarded. This corps will have the very great advantage of starting with a better selected body of officers than has fallen to the lot of any Fencible regiment in Canada. I hope you will feel inclined to bring forward Shaw as one of your captains, as without your countenance I fear he will find it an arduous task to provide for himself and his brother. The uniform of the corps is to be green, like that of the 95th rifles.
Sir George expressed himself very sensible of the policy of the line of conduct you would wish to pursue respecting the Indians; but as other considerations of the greatest political delicacy are so minutely interwoven with them, and as the American government are already inclined to view every transaction with those people with a jealous and suspicious eye, he would recommend the utmost caution and forbearance, lest a different line of conduct might tend to increase the irritation between the two governments, which it is evidently the wish of Great Britain to allay.
Our weather has been, and still continues for the season, severer than ever was recollected by the oldest stagers, and has rather put our Halifax friends out of conceit with the fine climate of Canada, particularly as Lady Prevost's health is delicate, and she is very sensible of cold. Mrs. Cator and Mrs. Baynes beg to be most kindly remembered to you. General Bowes accompanied Kempt to Portugal in the end of December.