The Constitutional Governor
SIR JOHN COAPE SHERBROOKE, I816-I8
The legacy of party strife and personal hatreds, which had increasingly darkened the air of Quebec since the arrival of Sir James Craig, and which was to plague each of his successsors, was never better pictured than by Sir John Sherbrooke three months after his arrival. Lord Bathurst, with a cheerful blindness to the realities of Canadian politics that was often characteristic of him, had offered two pieces of advice in his confidential letters to the new Governor; on the one hand, he urged him to cultivate the goodwill of the Catholic clergy, to whom his Lordship gave credit for the patriotic conduct of the French Canadians during the late war, and, on the other, he suggested that he be guided in his policies by Chief Justice Sewell, who was now returning to Quebec after his triumphant acquittal by the Privy Council, and whose keen intelligence and intimate knowledge of British North America had made a deep impression on Bathurst while Sewell was in London.
I fear, my Lord, [wrote Sherbrooke in reply,] that these two objects are not to be reconciled and that I must forego the one or the other ....
I have found that the feeling against that gentleman... [ Chief Justice Sewell] pervades all classes and prevails with violence even in the obscurest parts of the Province. It matters not, my Lord, that this feeling proceeds from the arts and calumnies of designing demagogues, or men urged by personal dislike. It has long existed; it has derived fresh virulence from the apparent triumph of the Chief Justice; and while I found it generally adopted among the Inhabitants I also found the Catholic Clergy themselves are among the most strenuous assertors of its justice, if not among the warmest propagators of it.
Even the salute from the Citadel, which greeted Sewell's return, had angered the people; all public evils were blamed on him --- the dissolution of the assembly by Drummond, the expiration of beneficial laws, the