Letter to his Brother Irving
QUEBEC, July 9, 1810.
I have a thousand thanks to offer you for the very great attention you have shewn in executing my commissions: the different articles arrived in the very best order, with the exception of the cocked hat, which has not been received—a most distressing circumstance, as, from the enormity of my head, I find the utmost difficulty in getting a substitute in this country.
I proposed writing to you early to-morrow, but Sir James having this instant intimated his intention of sending me upwards immediately, I avail myself of an hour's leisure to do that hastily which I would gladly have done quietly, and, consequently, more fully. If I am to remain in this country, I care little where I am placed; but going up, as I do now, without knowing whether I am to stay or return, is particularly awkward, and interferes materially in all my future arrangements: perhaps I shall be able to get the point settled before I commence my journey.
Every thing here remains in a state of perfect quietness. It is but too evident that the Canadians generally are becoming daily more anxious to get rid of the English. This they cannot effect unless a French force come to their aid, and I do not think that Bonaparte would risk the loss of a fleet and army for the chance of getting possession of the country. What infatuation! No people had ever more cause to rejoice at their fate; but they are not singular, as all mankind seems prone to change, however disadvantageous or productive of confusion.
Savery forwarded your pamphlet to me. You have taken a very proper view of the political dissensions which at this moment disgrace England. Those to whom I have allowed a perusal, and who are infinitely better judges than I can pretend to be, speak of the purity of the language in terms of high approbation. You have happily suited the style to the matter. Several copies have, within a few days, been in circulation here. Savery speaks of a letter you received, in consequence, from Lord Melville. I hope you will not fail in sending me a copy, as I am all anxiety for your literary fame. As you differ in sentiment from the Edinburgh Review, I hope that you have made up your mind to an unmerciful lashing.
I do not see the smallest prospect of my getting away from here, as the disposition manifested by the Canadians will occasion a large military force to be kept in the country, and it will serve as a plea to retain all at their posts. I wish that I could boast of a little more patience than I feel I now possess.
The fortifications of Quebec are improving pretty rapidly, but workmen cannot be procured in sufficient number to proceed as fast as government would wish. Labourers now get 7s. 6d. a day, and artificers from 12s. to 15s. Upwards of three hundred vessels have already arrived—a prodigious number.