1837: Luis Bliss to Henry Bliss

This letter was written to Henry Bliss (1797-1873) —  an “author, lawyer, and provincial agent for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia; b. 1797 at Saint John, N.B., youngest son of Jonathan Bliss*, chief justice of New Brunswick, and Mary Worthington; d. 31 July 1873 at London, England.

Henry Bliss, with his brother William Blowers Bliss, was educated at King’s College, Windsor, Nova Scotia, where he received a ba in 1816. In 1819, after legal training in Saint John, his father appointed him clerk of the pleas for the Supreme Court of New Brunswick. After his father’s death in 1822, he was dismissed from this office by the lieutenant governor, George Stracy Smyth, who appointed his aide-de-camp, Captain George Shore, to the position. A bitter dispute over patronage ensued; Bliss travelled to England where he won the support of the colonial secretary, Lord Henry Bathurst. Bathurst in 1824 ordered that Bliss be reinstated; the latter, however, did not return to New Brunswick to take up the position, but was admitted to the English bar and later became a queen’s counsel. In 1826 he resigned as clerk of the pleas.

In 1824, Bliss and John Bainbridge, a London merchant, had been appointed joint agents for the province of New Brunswick in London at a salary of £200 a year. Bainbridge died in 1836, but Bliss continued to represent the province and, for a number of years, also served as agent for Nova Scotia. The agent’s task was to support legislation favourable to the colony, to oppose unfavourable legislation, and to try to see that the views of the provincial assembly were known at the Colonial Office. By 1846 the work of the provincial agent had declined in importance, and Bliss requested that his salary be discontinued but that he be allowed to continue to represent the province. He corresponded with the provincial government for several more years and there is no record of his appointment ever having been cancelled.

Bliss published a number of pamphlets on colonial questions, which caused considerable discussion in English and colonial journals. The most important of these were: On colonial intercourse (1830), in which he argued that new trade agreements with the United States were not in the best interests of Britain and the colonies, and On the timber trade (1831) and Letter to Sir Henry Parnell . . . on the new colonial trade bill (1831), in which he attacked free trade and the proposal to remove the preference given to colonial timber in British markets.

The letter contains a reference to the death of King William IV (1765-1837) who passed away on 20 June 1837. He was succeeded by his sister, Queen Victoria, who became the longest reigning British monarch.


Addressed to Henry Bliss, Esquire, King’s Bench Walk, Temple, London

Halifax, Nova Scotia
8 August 1837

My dear Henry,

Your letter of the 19th came to me via New York and New Brunswick on the 4th instant at 10 P.M. It was brought by mail from St. John that evening tho ____ postman left it about an hour before I received it as I was from home at the time. The previous letter you had written of the 14th is yet to come. You had made one great error in your calculations and arrangements, as to time you considered when a letter might soonest reach its destination, but not longest. At the season of the year the passages out from England are long. You write to Perth on the 14th. Did you also write to him on the 19th when you write to me? If not, he may yet be without orders touching Fitz. I have been a good deal puzzled between my own engagements here and your arrangements and I hardly know what course is best. One thing is certain, my going to New  York now for Fitz would be a wild goose chase or if by chance I found him not sailed , we should all be too late for you. And since the receipt of your letter, there has been no ___ of getting there sooner than to have set out this morning for New Brunswick and push on as fast as possible. I do not see that I could have reached New York by the 15th, and this is five days after your furthest time for Fitz to sail. I am very fearful that we shall not manage to get the benefit of your vacation. Upon the whole, the best thing seems to me to write to R___ to _____ port (10 days to _____, I think as it may be 4 more to Montreal) that being too late altogether to join Fitz at New York, he had better be sent home without any reference to me or my movements. I should think if put under the Captains care, he will do very well, and that I hope this has been done. That your instructions should be complied with as nearly as possible without regard to me at all. That if I heard anything in a few days from him to recommend such a course. I might yet go to New York, but not unless there appeared strong reasons for it. That I hoped to see the packet in a day or two and would be governed also by what I may hear by it. At present the only way to save time, the chief thing to be regarded appears to me is to get Fitz on his passage to England as fast as possible, and if I am to be with you and him or you alone during your holiday, I had better sail from this in the packet if nothing _____  _____ Martin, by which this goes, I could not well do it. You should have written by the June Packet to R____ just as you wrote on the 14th, or rather one month earlier than you did write. H may not find it easy all at once to comply with your wishes. Nor _____ Fitz to W. R____ to do the best with him he can, what should I do myself. I may manage in some way to go in the packet and giving her to the 20th to sail, I may reach England by the 10th of September to London then, and if you are gone to the Continent, follow & find you at Paris or elsewhere, as a letter left by you may point out. Now how will this do? And couple with the fact of my leaving matters here at ____ _____, and its being necessary to return to them early in the Spring. Fitz will not have the start of me more than ten days, I think. He can in ___ possible not sail before the 10th. I think it will be a few days later. I have many matters at St. John _____ an agency. If I go there and sail from there if the plan ___ do, but a timber ship is a month in getting away & out of the Bay. There are the ships there besides the regular Line Packets very good & safe vessels and I think I prefer them. YOur ___ is altogether in ___ circumstances should present getting home for your vacation. What you would next prefer you say not. Do that R___’s wife sent Fitz, I suppose the soonest he can after getting your letter. What if it had been lost or miscarried?

Will the death of the King have made any alteration in your plans? No, I think not, as on the 19th of June when you wrote, he was dying and you must have known it. As to money matters, I am something puzzled also. Exchange is at 16 ____ here & has been higher. At St. John about 14 ____ — too high. I shall not be able to arrange to remit to you and I am not too seem that I may not have to trust to you for some supply for myself, which will be awkward or you will have Fitz to provide for, It is altogether rather an inconvenient time to perform the object you have in view. The accounts from the U. States and England are better. They will return to specie payments ere long. Here we have been forced to itm yet we have no great calls yet. Those who want discounts will not, but others may pounce on us at any moment.

I _____ the great, notorious for anything but what is liberal and good hearted, _____ in some 8 or 10 different suits. We knew there was no ground to refuse, but the understanding entered into and that the moment the public wished the return to cash, it must be done. It was a choice of _____ and the lesser seemed to be to suspend spice, then to suspend ale discounts and for the credit ___ them for now paying gold when required, having settled the suits. When much is required, we must stop the ____, the Bank of ____ will commence, I suppose, son after the arrival of the packet if the spices come, and the accountant — Binney’s Manager — they may go to work without specie by drawing _____, but I hope they will bring some hard money here. The dividend declared at the Bank of Nova Scotia is only 3 1/2 percent but we can’t with great safety have done more, had it not been deemed prudent in this cash suspension time, and during the present commenced _______ abroad to keep within the mark…..

Yours very affectionately, — Luis Bliss


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