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Title: Basil Hall, Albany, to Wilmot Horton
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileHall, Basil/87
SenderHall, Basil
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationcaptain
Sender Religionunknown
OriginAlbany, NY, USA
RecipientHorton, Wilmot
Recipient Gendermale
Relationshipletter about emigration to Canada
SourceThe Belfast Commercial Chronicle, 26 January, 1828
ArchiveThe Central Library,Belfast.
Doc. No.9807791
Date26/01/1828 (?)
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, 27:07:98.
Word Count1262
A Letter addressed by Captain Basil Hall, R.N. to the
Right Hon. [Honorable?] R. Wilmot Horton.

Albany, State of New-York, 27th Sept. 1827.
MY DEAR SIR - About two months ago, when travelling in
Upper Canada, I went out of my way to visit the settlement
at Peterborough, where the emigrants of 1825 are placed. I
went with Mr. George Boulton and Mr. Falkener of Cobourg,
and was accompanied by Mrs. Hall, which I mention merely
to show you that in the matter of roads, things have improved
since 1825, when, I believe, no lady could have gone over the
same ground. Mr. McDonell received us at the village, which
we reached by crossing the Rice Lake, and rowing up the
[Otanabee?] River some seven or eight leagues. I devoted
three days to an examination of the settlement, and though
I could not manage in that time to see more of it than a
very small part, I think I witnessed enough to give me a
fair conception of the whole; and as the result is in the
highest degree satisfactory, I take the liberty of mentioning
it to you.
I visited a good many of the different emigrants on their
cleared grounds, and took care to come upon them unexpectally,
but not to alarm them by sudden interrogatories, or to
give them reason to fancy I had more than an ordinary degree
of interest in their concerns. The circumstances of these
people were different; some had cleared more land than others,
or had cultivated it with greater success, owing to their
having more or fewer grown-up children, or in consequence of
their having been a longer or shorter period on their land. But
it is no exaggeration to say of these emigrants, that they were
all in a state of prosperity. They were contented in their
present state, though a very laborious one, certainly; and
they looked forward with the most satisfactory king of hope
to what was before them. I call it satisfactory, because it was
reasonable, and not extravagant. And I should say, judging from
a pretty extensive experience we have had in travelling
through these countries, that they are all in as fair a way of
doing well as any settlers we have seen elsewhere, and in a
very short time they cannot fail to be in most respectable
What is extremely curious, and I think important, is the
fact of these people being not only duly sensible of the favours
which have been granted them, but their being willing to
acknowledge this, and apparently anxious to express their
gratitude to his Majesty's Government; and all of them are most
desirous of having it known that they have had all they wished
or could want to render them comfortable in the first instance,
and to advance their more independent efforts afterwards.
It is material to state here, that although this account
agrees, I believe, in substance with others which you must
have received from Sir Peregrine Maitland last year, I consider
the visit I have paid as being more to your purpose, inasmuch
as the allowance of rations, and other assistance form
Government, had not then ceased; but when I went there, all such
adventitious aid had been stopped, and the emigrants had been
working for nearly half a year entirely free. In the interval,
as I was told by Mr. Stewart of Duoro, and others, there had
been in many in stances considerable hardship, and in some
case severe pressure from actual want. I made a point,
therefore, of visiting some of these people; and found them to
the full as cheerful and uncomplaining, and in all respects as
grateful as the others - freely acknowledging that their
distress arose from other circumstances than any want of
attention of breach of faith on the part of the Government,
for whose exertions they all said they felt the sincerest
Upon the whole, my impression was that the experiment
had completely succeded, if the object was to render a mass
of destitute and miserable people independent and useful,
instead of being burthens to the country. Of their loyalty
there is not a spark of doubt; and I confess I never saw any
set of persons upon whom, in the event of a brush, I
should more thoroughly reply. The moral and political effect,
also, of this successful measure, has extended, I conceive,
far beyond the mere limits of the Peterborough Settlement;
and the advantages which have arisen from it have been
great. It has spread over all that country a sentiment every
way creditable to England; and this feeling is not confined
to the northern side of the boundary line. The whole
business seems to have been managed well; and the result is
equally creditable to the people who have been the object of
the charity, to those who carried its very troublesome
details into exception, and (if it be not impudent in me to
judge of such matters) to those who suggested the trial.
The liberal style, too, both of the conception and the
performance, have produced their national effect in this
quarter of the world; and I am well satisfied that immense
public benefits have accrued from this measure alone, some
of which, perhaps, you did not think of, and which, indeed,
I did not dream if till they were brought to my notice on the
When I had last the pleasure of seeing you, you called
my attention to the Welland Canal, and of course I made a
point of investigating that subject with attention. At the
request of some gentlemen in Upper Canada, I was induced
to allow my opinions on the subject to be made public; and
if you have any curiosity on the matter, you will see them
in the printed letter, which was re-copied into an American
paper, from whence I have cut it out for you. I have added
a notice respecting the completion of the Southern part of
this undertaking, which I conceive it to be of the greatest
consequence should be completed as soon as possible. The
Oswego Canal, which connects Lake Ontario with Hudson,
via Syracuse and the eastern branch of the Erie canal, will
be completed this year. It is executed, as I understand,
with more care than the other, which, by the way, meets
with frequent accidents. These breaks in the banks, however,
are repaired with great celerity; the advantage is taken
of such opportunities to put the whole work near the spot
where the accident occurs on a complete state of order.
Very large sums are annually expended in this way; and
that which at first was done not in the best style, will
eventually be made as it ought, perhaps, to have been at first.
The great anxiety which was felt to open it, at all hazards,
induced the proprietors to complete it in haste. The
Welland Canal, however, is so well executed, that I imagine
there will be no interruptions such as these, which are of
frequent occurrence here; and the sooner its greater powers of
transportation are brought into steady play the better.
I shall probably remain in the United States till this time
twelvemonth, and if you think I can make any inquiries likely
to be of use to you, I beg you to command my best services.
A letter to the care of Messrs. Rathbone and Brothers,
Liverpool, will be sure to find me.
I remain, my dear Sir,
Most sincerely, your obedient servant,
N.B. - This letter was not addressed to Mr. Wilmot
Horton as Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, but
as a private individual.