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Les Patriotes de 1837@1838 - Lettre de John Ryerson à Egerton Ryerson (Toronto, 12 avril 1838)
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Lettre de John Ryerson à Egerton Ryerson (Toronto, 12 avril 1838)
Article diffusé depuis le 20 mai 2000

Monday, I was down in town and met Lount's brother. The Brother told me that he had not been allowed to see his Brother since he was commited to prison, although he had made frequent applications and had used every means in his power to obtain the privillege, but it had been uniformly denied him. Mr. Lount was on this way to try again for permission. Your benevolent heart, I am sure, will sink with horror at such barbarism in the 19th century. Dr. Morrison sent for me and I went over to his place. He wishes me to appear at court as a witness for him, I have seen him frequently during the Monday and Tuesday of the insurrection. He was very low spirited. The grand jury finds pretty much all guilty, and the pettit has given a verdict against every one who has been tried yet (with one exception). He thinks there is slender ground to hope for himself. Tuesday, a man came to me with a petition which he wished me to sign for the mitigation of Lount's and Matthew's punishment. I signed it and so did Wm. who was here at the time; a little after two other persons came and wished me to go as one of the deputation to present the petitions to his excellency. I saw Mr. Richardson who had just been in to see Lount and Matthews. Matthews professed to have found peace. Lount is ernestly seeking. A good deal of feeling seems to be excited respecting the execution of these unfortunate men. The petition which came down from Newmarket was signed by five thousand persons; a number are now being circulated through the city. But Mr. Richardson thinks there is little doubt but what they will be executed, and I think so too. There seems to be a determination on the part of certain persons connected with the executive to carry things to extremes. On wednesday a petition signed by 4000 persons in behalf of L. and M. came from Dundas and was presented to his Excellency. At 11 oc. Mr. Harris, Prebyterian Minister, Mr. Richardson, Mr. Roaf, Mr. Beatty, Mr. Harvard, Wm. and Mr. Brouff (a minister of the Church of England) met at my place for the purpose of going as a deputation to convey the petition from the inhabitants of Toronto to the Governor. After a good deal of conversation, it was concluded that Mr. Brouff, who is minister of the Church of England from Newmarket, and I should go and present the petition to his Excellency and that we should seek a private interview with him and express our views to him fully. Well, we went and instead of having a private interview with his Excellency we were called into the executive council. This was rather embarassing to me for two reasons. 1. I wished to see His Excellency alone and 2ly I did not wish to say what I intended to say in the presence of Sir Francises old executive. But after presenting the Petition, Mr. Brouff introduced the conversation and refered his Excellency to me and I told him that I was extensively acquainted with country and had taken a lively interest in promoting its peace, etc. I then, among other things, said to his Excellency that I was very desirous that those unfortunate men should not be executed but that the punishment of death should be commuted for something less severe and awful, that I believe that the soul motive by which his Excellency was actuated was the promotion of the public well and that the great end to be attained in this painful business was that which would most effectually secure this object (with of course feeling of sympathy for those men and their distressed families) and that I was satisfied that the mitigation of their punishments would much more effectually secure this object then the rigerous infliction of the severe sentence of the law, that I had travelled lately through the Niagara, Gore, Home, Newcastle, Prince Edward and parts of the Midland districts, had conversed with a great many persons, many of whom were persons of high respectability, and all of whom were persons strongly attached to the interests of his majesties government, and with few exceptions there was but one opinion among them, and that was, that no blood be shed, and that the severe penalty of the law should not be executed on those victims of deception and sin, etc. etc. I also read an extract of your last letter to his Excellency, relating to the inexpediency of inflicting severe punishments in "opposition to public sentiments and feeling for political offences", etc. But all availed nothing. After having listened to me very attentively, his Excellency said that after the fullest consultation with his executive and the most serious and prayerful consideration of this painful matter, he had come to the conclusion that Lount and Matthews must be executed and that in their case there could be no mitigation of the penalty of the law. Sir George also stated at considerable length the reasons by which he had been lead to the conclusion to which he had come. I returned home much cast down and affected and am still of the opinion that the execution of these unfortunate men is exceedingly impolitic and will be attended with very injurious results...

At eight o'clock today, Thursday, 12th April, Lount and Matthews were executed. The general feeling is in total opposition to the execution of those men. Sheriff Jarvis burst into tears when he entered the room to prepare them for execution. They said to him very calmly, "Mr. Jarvis, do your duty; we are prepared to meet death and our Judge." They then, both of them, put their arms around his neck and kissed him. they were then prepared for execution. They walked to the gallows with entire composure and firmness of step. Rev. J. Richardson walked alongside of Lount, and Dr. Beatty alongside of Matthews. They ascended the scaffold and knelt down on the drop. The ropes were adjusted while they were on their knees. Mr. Richardson engaged in prayer; and when he came to that part of the Lord's Prayer, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us," the drop fell!...

["The Arthurs Papers. Being the Papers Mainly Confidential, Private, and Demi-Official of Sir George Arthur, K. C. H., Last Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada in the Manuscript Collection of the Toronto Public Libraries", Ed. by Charles R. Sanderson. Toronto Public Libraries and University of Toronto Press, 1943,1947.]


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