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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/110

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[Scotsman, 22 Aug. 1861; Belfast Northern Whig, 21 Aug. 1861; Athenæum, 24 Aug. 1861.]

A. M-l

BRUCE, JAMES, eighth Earl of Elgin and twelfth Earl of Kincardine (1811–1863), governor-general of India, second son of the seventh earl of Elgin [q. v.], was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, where in 1832 he took a first class in classics, and was shortly afterwards elected a fellow of Merton. It is a curious coincidence that one of the examiners on the latter occasion was Sir Edmund Head, who many years afterwards succeeded Elgin as governor-general of Canada. Among Elgin's contemporaries at Christ Church were Lord Dalhousie and Lord Canning, his two immediate predecessors in the office of governor-general of India, the fifth Duke of Newcastle, the first Lord Herbert of Lea, and Mr. Gladstone. In a contest for the Eldon law scholarship he was defeated by Roundell Palmer, now Earl of Selborne. In April 1841 he married a daughter of Mr. C. L. Cumming Bruce, and at the general election in July of the same year he was elected member for Southampton, his political views being those which were afterwards called liberal-conservative. 'When parliament met, he seconded the amendment to the address, which, being carried by a large majority, was followed by the resignation of Lora Melbourne's government. Shortly afterwards, on the death of his father, his elder brother having died in the previous year, he succeeded to the Scotch earldom, and ceased to be a member of the House of Commons. In March 1842 he was appointed governor of Jamaica.

Jamaica, at the time of Elgin's appointment, was in some respects in a depressed condition. The landed proprietary, which was mainly represented in the island by paid agents, had suffered considerably from the abolition of the slave trade. The finances required careful management, and the moral and intellectual condition of the negro population was very low. In all these matters progress had been made under the administration of Elgin's distinguished predecessor, Sir Charles Metcalfe; but much still remained to be accomplished, especially in the matter of educating the negroes. In this, and in the important object of encouraging the application of mechanical contrivances to agriculture, Elgin's efforts were very successful, and his administration generally was so satisfactory that very shortly after leaving Jamaica he was offered by the whig government, which had acceded to office in 1846, the important post of governor-general of Canada. His first wife had died shortly after his arrival in Jamaica, and in 1847 he married Lady Louisa Mary Lambton, daughter of the first Earl of Durham.

In Canada, as in Jamaica, Elgin again succeeded to an office which very recently had been filled by Metcalfe, but the difficulties of the position were far greater than those which had met him in the West Indian colony. The rebellion which had taken place in Lower Canada in 1837 and 1838 had left behind it feelings of bitter animosity between the British party, which was most numerous in the upper province, and the French Canadians, who preponderated in Lower Canada. Pursuant to the recommendations made in Lord Durham's celebrated report. Upper and Lower Canada had been imited under a single government, and under Sir Charles Bagot, Metcalfe's predecessor as governor-general, constitutional government had been established. During the earlier part of Metcalfe's government the French Canadians and the party that sympathised with them had been in office; but a difference of opinion between Metcalfe and his council as to his power to make appointments, even to his personal staff, without the assent of the council, had led to the resignation of the majority of the council, and had been followed by the dissolution of the assembly and an election which gave a small majority to the British party. Elgin found this party in power, but before he had been a year in office another general election gave a majority to the other side, and during the remainder of his stay in Canada his ministry was composed of persons belonging to what may be called the liberal party, the chief element in that ministry being French Canadian. From the first Elgin had very serious difficulties to contend with. The famine in Ireland, which commenced in the first year of his government, flooded Canada with diseased and starving emigrants, whose support had in the first instance to be borne by the Canadians; the Free Trade Act of 1846 inflicted heavy losses upon Canadian millowners and merchants; and last, but not least, the British party regarded with the keenest resentment the admission into the government of the country of persons some of whom they looked upon as rebels. This resentment, on the occasion of a bill being passed granting compensation for losses incurred in Lower Canada during the rebellion, culminated in riots and outrages of a grave character. The measure in question was the outcome of the report of a commission appointed by Metcalfe's conservative government in 1845. It was denounced both in Canada and in England, and in the latter country, among other persons, by Mr. Gladstone, as a measure for