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[GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF CANADA. TREASURER.
SECRETARY. W. C. SARGEAUNT, Esq.
A. R. ROCHE, Esq.
A MEETING called by public advertisement was held on Friday, the 26th of June, 1863, at Willis's Rooms, King Street, St. James's, under the presidency of Viscount Bury, to adopt measures for forming an association to be called the Colonial Society. Owing to the difficulty of communicating with the gentlemen connected with the various colonies who were then in London, the attendance was not very large ; but it comprised some of the most influential representatives of colonial interests, together with several noblemen and gentlemen, who, as members of the Imperial Legislature, have taken part in discussions on the leading questions relating to colonial politics. Amongst them were the Marquis of Normanby, the Right Hon. Chichester Fortescue, M.P., Mr. Baillie Cochrane, M.P., Mr. Marsh, M.P., Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, Sir Charles Nicholson, Bart., Dr. Mann, Mr. W. B. Hume, Mr. A. H. Louis, Mr. James Youl, Mr. Blaine, Mr. McGarel, Mr. E. Wilson, of the Melbourne Argus, Mr. Wray, Mr. Selim Jackson, &c.
Viscount Bury having been voted into the chair, spoke as follows: Gentlemen, in opening the business of the meeting to-day, I wish to state in the first instance that I have communicated with a few gentlemen connected with our various colonies, or are known to take an interest in them, with a view of asking them to come here to listen to the proceedings, and, if possible, to induce them to aid us in forwarding the object we are anxious to accomplish. I need not say that I have not canvassed the matter, and I may observe that only on one occasion, and that was at a social gathering, have I mentioned it to anyone. Then I mentioned it to several gentlemen of high distinction, who are well known in the colonies, and, having stated to them what we proposed to do, I am happy to say that in all instances the proposal was exceedingly well
received, and a great many prominent individuals told me that they placed themselves at the disposal of the society when formed, that they would be glad to join it as Fellows, and would help it forward by every means in their power. I have also received letters from several noblemen and gentlemen expressing regret at not being able to attend to-day, but at the same time stating that they feel a very great interest in the question, and would be glad to do what they can to forward the object in view. Amongst these are Lord Stanley, General Sir William Coghlan, the Right Hon. Chichester Fortescue —but I am glad to see that my right honourable friend is here, and he will allow me to say that I am very grateful for his presence and co-operation. I find the letter is from Mr. Dudley Fortescue, who states that he cordially sympathises with our purpose, but says it is impossible for him to attend. I have received similar letters from General Sir G. Bell, Mr. A. Blythe, the Earl of Kellie, the Hon. J. A. Erskine, &c. I have also a letter from the Duke of Manchester, in which he expresses his approbation of the object of the meeting, but wishes to give to the society a more political tone than we contemplate. I will not, therefore, read his very valuable letter to the meeting; but I am perfectly certain, from what he says, that he will forward the objects of the society by all the means in his power; and he adds, that he considers the colonies not so much in the light of colonies as integral portions of the United Kingdom. I need not remind you that a great want has often been felt by gentlemen connected with our several colonies, on arriving in England, of some meeting-place, some centre of attraction where they might resort on their arrival, and where they might obtain the latest intelligence from their own part of the world, and place themselves in communication with other gentlemen connected with their own and other colonies, and with them concert such measures as should tend to the interest of all. We want some medium by which we may form our scattered colonies into a homogeneous whole. Therefore we think we can do no better for the accomplishment of that end than to form a society in London, a colonial society, consisting of Fellows and a council, which shall occupy in reference to the colonies the position filled by the Royal Society with regard to science and the Royal Geographical Society with regard to geography. As you are probably aware, many gentlemen have entertained the idea before this of establishing some kind of colonial association in London ; but it is only now that that idea has assumed a tangible shape. I hope that we shall be able to give it a good start; for I am sure that it only requires a good start to become one of the most important societies in this metropolis. The objects of the society propose
to form are somewhat difficult to define with any degree of accuracy. Those objects will necessarily be very elastic; and it
is only the members of the society themselves, when it shall have been formed, who can give it the necessary impetus in its proper direction, and decide what its constitution and real objects and functions shall be. It is like a tree which, when once planted, has only to grow and expand. One of the principal objects of the society when it is established will be, at its usual weekly or periodical meetings, to read papers on subjects of interest to the colonies. I was thinking, before I came here, of the character of the various subjects which might engage its attention, and a vast number that occurred to me shows the importance of such an organisation and the interest which it cannot fail to command. At present the only means any colonial gentleman has of expressing his opinion upon any subject is either by an article in a review or some periodical, should the subject be sufficiently important; or if it be of less importance, by a paragraph in a newspaper. Now, as we know, a review or magazine only reaches a very limited circle of readers, while a paragraph in a newspaper is passed over, hardly attracting any attention. Amongst the subjects that occurred to me are engineering, emigration, architecture, the building of bridges, the harvests, trade, mines, finance, missions, the history of the Aborigines, and all that relates to the Aboriginal tribes in our various dependencies; shipping intelligence, the progress of shipbuilding in our several maritime dependencies, the advancement of art and science, archæology, and matters relating to the early history of the colonies, zoology-a field in which there would be found new and curious specimens of wild animals, whose nature and habits would thus be learned. These subjects would come to the weekly or periodical meetings, either as small contributions for discussion or as more important papers to be read. We should also have instances of successful acclimatisation, the introduction of animals from one colony to another where they were previously unknown; pisciculture, a subject which has recently attracted much interest in the colonies, would also command attention ; and lastly, but not least, there is the general subject of inventions. Our Yankee cousins are supposed to be more than any other an inventive nation, but I am glad to find that our Canadian colonies have taken a leaf out of their book; for I saw at the exhibition of Canadian products more thoroughly original and useful mechanical inventions than any I had ever seen elsewhere. Another subject which might well engage the attention of such a society is new raw material—a new material for paper-making, for instance. The milk-weed, which is produced in Canada, is being used as a substitute for rags in the manufacture of paper; and papers upon such subjects as I have described, read and discussed at our weekly or periodical meetings, would unquestionably be more useful, and would have far more practical effect,
than any article in a magazine or review, or any paragraph in a newspaper.
Therefore, when we remember that all these matters might be usefully dealt with at our meetings (and that they would command interest with every one connected with or acqnainted with our colonies no one can doubt), you will, I think, agree with me that it is impossible to overrate the importance of such a society and its probable results. (Hear, hear.) From the list of subjects I have given, I presume that we are not impertinent in considering that there is room for such a society. But its organisation must be thought of and decided upon with great care. The Royal Society, I think, affords the best model for us to follow. I have consulted with several of the gentlemen around me, and we have drawn up certain resolutions which will be submitted to the meeting with a view of eliciting discussion as to the steps which should be taken. The first of these resolutions merely advocates the formation of the society; the second defines the objects of the society; the third, which is perhaps the most important one, declares that the society should be entirely non-political in its organisation, as otherwise we should hardly obtain our Fellows, as it is desirable we should do, from all sections and shades of opinion. The fourth I will read, as it relates to the constitution of a provisional committee to decide upon the government of the society: “That a provisional committee be forthwith formed with instructions to draw up rules for the government of the society, to receive the names of gentlemen willing to become Fellows of the society, and to prepare a list of gentlemen willing to form the council of the society ; that these papers shall be submitted to a meeting of the society, to be called by the provisional committee when the duties entrusted to them shall have been fulfilled ; and that such Provisional Committee shall consist of the following, with power to add to their number.” Those with whom I have conversed on the subject have thought it best that the society should be constituted like the Royal Society; that is, of Fellows and a council, but it will be for the meeting to discuss that point, and to determine upon it. I think the meeting will probably consider that in the formation of an important society it would be essential to obtain, if possible, the direct patronage of Her Majesty (Hear, hear); and probably, therefore, the meeting will be of opinion that the committee, when the society is formed, should place themselves in communication with the proper authorities for the purpose of obtaining the gracious sanction of Her Majesty to allow it to be called “ The Royal Colonial Society," so as to give us the same locus standi and position which the other royal societies enjoy. (Hear, hear.) I fear I have detained you too long (No, no); but I will now conclude by moving that it is expedient to form a society to be called “The Colonial Society," or such other name as the committee