“It will be well”, he remarked, “to call on his Excellency, the Governor, and put him in possession of these facts. It is possible the case may take some shape in which his action may be called for. It will do no harm for him to have a knowledge of the circumstances from yourselves, gentlemen. Will you accompany me to the Government House?”
The Government House, a large building of stone, is situated near the northern entrance to the city. With its extensive wings, beautiful grounds and military appointments, it presents an imposing appearance. In the rear of the mansion, a fine park slopes down to the bank of the river, of which it commands frequent and enchanting views.
The three gentlemen alighted at the entrance to the grounds, opening from the broad street, and after passing the sentry were conducted by a page to the Governor’s office. His Excellency shortly appeared and gave them a courteous welcome. In brief terms Col. Allen presented to him the case.
The Governor remarked in reply, that the law prohibiting persons from publicly preaching, or teaching, without a license, had been passed many years ago, in consequence of disturbances made by a set of fanatics, who promulgated among the lower classes certain extravagant dogmas by which they were led on even to commit murder; thinking they were doing God service. The purpose of the law, he said, having been thus generally understood, few, if any clergymen, belonging either to the Established Church or to Dissenting congregations, had applied for a license, and this was the first complaint to his knowledge, that had been entered, alleging a violation of the law. He said, also, that from the statement Col. Allen had made, he apprehended no danger to Mr. Norton, as he thought the charge brought against him could not be maintained.
“I advise you, sir”, said he, turning to the missionary, “to go to the Secretary’s office and take the oath of allegiance to the government. Mr. Dubois states you are exerting a good influence at Miramichi. I will see that you receive no further annoyance”.
“I thank your Honor”, Mr. Norton replied, “for your kind assurances, and I declare to you, sir, that I have the most friendly feelings towards His Majesty’s subjects and government, as I have given some proof in coming to labor at Miramichi. But, sir, I cannot conscientiously take an oath of allegiance to your government, when my love and duty are pledged to another. I earnestly hope that the present amicable relations may ever continue to exist between the two powers, but, sir, should any conflict arise between them, the impropriety of my having taken such an oath would become too evident”.
“You are right. You are right, my good sir”, replied the Governor. “I promise you that as long as you continue your work in the rational mode you have already pursued, making no effort to excite treasonable feelings towards His Majesty’s government, you shall not be interfered with”.