A Crisis.—This phase of the land question came to a head during the time when C. D. Smith—a brother of Sir Sidney Smith —was lieutenant-governor (1813-1824). He carried on the government of the island with a high hand, dispensing altogether for long periods (from 1813 to 1817, and again from 1820 until his recall) with the assistance of the assembly. Upon two other occasions he dissolved it very summarily when it failed to please him. He and his officials undertook in 1823 to collect the arrears of quit-rents. As there then seemed to be no prospect of any session of the assembly in which this grievance could be regularly ventilated, public meetings were called together in the three counties. At these meetings resolutions and an address to the Crown, strongly condemnatory of the lieutenant-governor, were passed. Smith treated these as criminal libels upon the constituted authorities, and caused some of the leaders in the movement to be arrested. The address to the Crown was, however, safely conveyed to England, and procured the speedy recall of the unpopular lieutenant-governor. No attempt was ever again made to collect quit-rents.
Landlord Influence in England.—On the other hand, every effort on the part of the assembly to force the absentee proprietors to settle their lands or give them up proved unavailing. Through the influence of the proprietors in England, every Act of the island legislature in any way interfering with their absolute ownership was promptly disallowed. In 1837 an Act was passed for levying an assessment upon wild land, in order to force some slight contribution from these absentee owners toward the opening up of roads and the building of bridges for the improvement of internal communication. Even this was objected to, but, owing to Lord Durham's emphatic protest against interference, the Act was not disallowed. In Lord Durham's opinion, the Act did not go far enough. " It was but natural," he wrote to Lord Glenelg, the colonial secretary, " that the colonial legislature—who have found it impossible as yet to obtain any remedy whatever—should hesitate to propose a sufficient one. Your Lordship can scarcely conceive the degree of injury inflicted on a new settlement, hemmed in by wilderness land which has been placed out of the control of the government, and is entirely neglected by its absent proprietors. This evil pervades British North America, and has been for many years past a subject of universal and bitter