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Title: Portraits of British Americans (1865-68) Volume 3 of 3

Date of first publication: 1868

Author: Fennings Taylor (1817-1882)

Photographer: William Notman (1826-1891)

Date first posted: February 3 2013

Date last updated: February 3 2013

Faded Page eBook #20130202

This eBook was produced by: Marcia Brooks, Ronald Tolkien & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net

(This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries)












Vol. III.





[Pg 1]



The general voice
Sounds him for courtesy, behaviour, language,
And every fair demeanour, an example:
Titles of honour add not to his worth
Who is himself an honour to his title.

It was in the reign of King Charles the Second, that two brothers bearing the respective names of John and Christopher Robinson, of Cleasby in the county of York, descendants of John Robinson, Esquire, of Crostwick, in the parish of Romaldkirk, in the same county, either for merit of their own, or for services rendered by their family to the restored monarch, appear to have been marked for royal favor. The elder entered holy orders, and rose from one degree to another, until he arrived at the dignity of Bishop of Gloucester. In 1713, he was translated to the see of London, and in the same year selected to represent his country, as chief plenipotentiary at the treaty of Utrecht. The younger brother, Christopher Robinson, emigrated to America, having been appointed private secretary to Sir William Berkeley, the Governor of Virginia. He resided at Rappahannock, in the county of Middlesex, in that colony. Subsequently he was promoted to the office of Provincial Secretary, and died in 1696. John Robinson, his second son, who was born in Virginia, and became President of the Council, married Catharine, a daughter of Robert Beverly, Esquire, formerly of[Pg 2] Beverly in Yorkshire. Of this marriage, there was issue seven sons, one of whom, Beverly Robinson, of the British army, married Susanna, daughter of Frederick Phillipse, Esquire, the proprietor of a large estate on the banks of the Hudson. According to the record found in Burke’s Peerage and Barontage, he died, in England, in 1772. He had several sons, including “Beverly Robinson the younger,” as he was styled in the New York confiscation act, Christopher Robinson, and as we believe, others beside Commissary General Sir William Robinson, and General Sir Frederick Phillipse Robinson, of the British army. The family was one of the influential as well as the historical families of the old American provinces. At the revolution which resulted in the independence of those provinces, the members of that family cast their lot with king and country, and fought and suffered for the royal cause. The episode of Arnold’s treachery and André’s sacrifice, acquire interest from the circumstances that the old homestead of the family, “the Robinson house,” on the banks of the Hudson, was the head quarters of the traitor General, and that Colonel Beverly Robinson, the owner of that house, was the friend, confidant, and associate of the high minded and gallant Major André, on the mission which resulted in his capture and execution. Christopher Robinson, the brother of the last mentioned Beverly Robinson, was born in 1764, and educated at “William and Mary” college, Virginia, of which his ancestor of the same name was one of the first trustees. He left that institution at the age of seventeen, and obtained a commission in Colonel Simcoe’s regiment of Queen’s Ranger Hussars. After the treaty of peace, he with other members of his race, sought and found sanctuary in the province of New Brunswick. He lost no time in adapting himself to the new conditions of his lot, and of testifying his admiration for the principles for which the family possessions had been sacrificed. He married Esther, the daughter of the Rev. John Sayer, of Fairfield, Connecticut, a clergyman of the episcopal church, and at the time of[Pg 3] the revolution, a missionary in the service of the venerable society for propagating the gospel. Mr. Sayer’s sacred office awakened no respect, and his holy life afforded no security. The merits of both were in the estimation of his persecutors counterbalanced by his earnest endeavor, as he touchingly wrote, “to keep a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man, continually striving to discharge his duties to his master, his king, and his people.” Thus it happened that in the year after the peace of Versailles, by which the independence of the United States was recognized, Christopher Robinson, not then of age, married Esther Sayer, whom we have no doubt was as conspicuous for the tenderness of her youth, as we have been informed she was for the attractiveness of her beauty. There was, we incline to think, but little fortune to embarrass the union of these representative sufferers in the cause of church and state. The settlements were probably of the simplest kind, for they occasioned no anxiety on the part of curious friends. To faith and hope, an entail of hereditary loyalty and of actual love, there remained but little besides a clear conscience for a possession, and forfeited estates for a remembrance. The world was all before them, and a very rough wild world it must have been, for it was fresh from the lap of nature and fashioned according to such forms as time bestows on soils innocent of tillage. The project of dividing the province of Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada was much talked of, and the former province especially became a place of great attraction. Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Robinson turned their faces westward, and in about the year 1788 found themselves residents of the parish of L’Assomption in Lower Canada. Afterwards they removed to Berthier, where their son, John Beverly Robinson, the subject of this sketch was born, on the 26th of July, 1791; the year, it may be remarked, in which the constitutional act was passed which divided the former province of Quebec into the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. There was at least a poetical fitness in the incident. It was seemly[Pg 4] that one who was destined for half a century to fill the most prominent place in the political and judicial history of Upper Canada, should have begun his life in the year in which that province commenced its statutory existence.

General Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, an officer of the revolutionary war, was as much beloved by the loyalists as they were admired by him. It was a part of his policy to attract people of congenial principles to the province he had been appointed to rule. It has been said that at least ten thousand of such persons became settlers in Upper Canada. The number of course included members of the more prominent as well as of the less conspicuous of the exiled families. Of the former, few if any received or deserved more respect than the descendants and representatives of Beverly Robinson. On the recommendation of General Simcoe, Christopher Robinson and his family moved to Kingston. In that town he lived, and for six years practiced law. He was one of the first benchers chosen by the Law Society, and also a member of the House of Assembly, having been elected in 1796 to represent the county of Lennox and Addington. Two years afterwards he left Kingston and moved with his family to Toronto, where, after a short illness, he died on the 2nd of November, 1798. Thus, at the age of seven years, in the melancholy season of the year, when the woods were stripped of their foliage and the meadows of their verdure, John Beverly Robinson entered upon the hard discipline of orphanhood, his worldly possessions being a good name, which he inherited; and a kind friend, whom he found in Mr. Stuart, the father of the late Archdeacon of Kingston. Mr. Stuart lost no time in placing young Robinson under the tuition of Mr. Strachan, the present Bishop of Toronto, who then resided in Kingston. There he continued until the teacher, having taken orders in the Anglican Church, moved to the town of Cornwall, where he not only fulfilled the duties of his holy calling, but continued the work of school teacher. Young Robinson,[Pg 5] with other pupils, accompanied Mr. Strachan to Cornwall, and continued there until his education was completed. No doubt the traditions of his family, and the teachings of his reverend instructor, aided the result they were well calculated to produce. Besides the classical, scientific and general information which Mr. Strachan possessed, and which he was well fitted to impart, that gifted teacher was endowed with certain underlying traits of character, a compound of fascination and force, which all his pupils have been ready to admit and few have been able to explain.

At the age of sixteen, he commenced the study of the law, in the office of the Honorable D’Arcy Boulton, at that time the acting Attorney General of the province. Like the late Sir Allan McNab, during the term of his indentures, he also obtained employment as a writing clerk in the office of the House of Assembly of Upper Canada, where he probably acquired some insight into the law and practice of parliament which proved very useful to him in later life. In 1810 Mr. Boulton had occasion to visit England. In running the gauntlet of the Atlantic, he and the ship in which he had sailed became war prizes to a French privateer. Mr. Boulton was carried into France, and confined as a prisoner in the fortified town of Verdun. There he continued until 1814, when the peace of Fontainbleau set him at liberty. In the meanwhile his former pupil, the subject of this sketch, had transferred his articles of indenture to Mr. Attorney General Macdonald, Mr. Boulton’s successor in office. Though educated for a lawyer, that gallant gentleman had the tastes of a soldier, for he served as aide-de-camp to, and was slain with General Brock at the memorable battle of Queenston Heights. Thus it chanced that Mr. Robinson’s professional chiefs illustrated in their persons the necessity and the duty of sacrifice, for though in opposite hemispheres and to different enemies, one contributed his liberty, and the other his life for his flag.

The war of 1812, between Great Britain and the United States,[Pg 6] disturbed every engagement of civil life, for the loyal men of Canada, of whatever occupation, were called upon to enrol themselves in the ranks of the militia, to do as their fathers had done, and to fight as their fathers had fought. To apply the words of the Chief Justice, in writing on the subject, we may truly say that—

“Their loyalty was sincere, for it led to the sacrifice of property, of country, of kindred, and friends; and the feeling which has since predominated with them and their descendants is a feeling of satisfaction and pride in the exertions and sacrifices by which their fidelity was proved. They have been troubled by no visitings of repentance for having performed their duty.... These feelings sprang from a pure source; they do not seem to have been always understood by public men in this country (i.e. England), but they still exist in all their strength; and if they do not long continue to animate the population which inherits them, the fault will not be theirs. Those who have hitherto obeyed their generous impulse have felt that they were but discharging their duty to God, to their sovereign, and to their country; but they have not seldom had the mortification to find that their open and steady support of principles and institutions which they knew to be justly entitled to their obedience and respect, has been placed to a less creditable account.”

In 1812, Mr. Robinson laid aside his pen and his law papers, and, as a worthy son of a chivalrous sire, he gave his services to his sovereign. He received a lieutenant’s commission in a regiment of York militia, under the command of Colonel the Honorable William Allan, and he had the honor of serving under the immediate orders of Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, at the capture of Detroit; where it is reported the articles of capitulation were drawn up by him; and also at the victory of Queenston Heights, where, to use his own words, “it required much more courage to refuse to follow Brock, than to go with him wherever he would lead.” Colonel Coffin, in his Chronicle of the War, thus writes:—”The British had been greatly exasperated by the fatal event of the morning (the death of Brock). The men of Lincoln, and the ‘brave York volunteers,’ with Brock on their lips, and revenge in their hearts, had joined in the last desperate charge, and among the foremost,—foremost ever[Pg 7] found!—was John Beverly Robinson.” After the close of the action he was despatched with prisoners to Kingston, and on his return to Toronto he was met by several friends who congratulated him on his appointment to what he was sanguine enough to believe might have been a captain’s commission, but to what he was astonished to learn was to the office of Attorney General for the province. The surprise, we may well conjecture, was increased by the fact, that he had not then been called to the bar.

In 1814, the Hon. D’Arcy Boulton walked out of his prison house at Verdun, to resume in the following year the position and duties from which he had been temporarily withdrawn. Whereupon Mr. Robinson accepted the office of Solicitor General, which he held until Mr. Boulton’s elevation to the bench in 1818, when the former situation was again given to him. Previously, however, in 1817 he went to England, and kept his terms at one of the Inns of Court. Nor was it law alone to which he paid his addresses; for he marked his visit by marrying Emma, a daughter of Charles Walker, Esq., and a niece of William Merry, Esq., who was for many years Under Secretary of State for foreign affairs. This estimable gentlewoman survived him for a short time only.

In the year 1821, he took his seat as a member of the House of Assembly, and at the same time became the acknowledged leader of what was then known as the Tory or government party. Parliamentary government, or government “according to the well understood wishes of the people as expressed through their representatives,” as it is now practiced, was then beyond the reach of colonial comprehension; for it was deemed to be not only inconsistent with, but absolutely opposed to the condition of colonial dependence. The responsibility of ministers to parliament was supposed to be incompatible with their responsibility to the crown. The interests of the two were considered to be antagonistic, and he who ventured to advocate the popular side was consequently suspected of having a moral screw loose somewhere, perchance of being related[Pg 8] to a Jacobin, if not actually outlawed as a conspirator. Party lines were sharply drawn, and men of liberal tendencies suffered from the political and social avoidance of those who controlled the government and kept the pass-key to what was unquestionably the nice society of the capital. But though popular rights were practically denied, the earnest demand for them could not be silenced; and thus the Attorney General found himself continually engaged in an exciting struggle with the liberal party, meeting their arguments with his eloquence, and by means of his personal influence, neutralizing the advantage which was considered to be due to their greater numbers in the House of Assembly.

Apart from the fact that ministerial responsibility as a condition of parliamentary government was then less understood than it is now, it should not be lost sight of that the early settlers, the U. E. Loyalists and their children, had no especial reason to regard with favor any extension of what were termed popular rights. Loyalty with them was a doctrine of sacred import, to be interpreted according to the canons of the eighteenth century politicians. “The image and transcript of the British constitution,” included in the opinion of the majority, a church established by law, and a state wherein the king not only reigned but governed. Church and king had been objects of especial hate in the old provinces, and for that, as well as for higher reasons, they were objects of especial reverence in the new. American loyalists deemed it to be their mission to preserve in their new homes what American republicans had destroyed in their old ones. Such sentiments blossomed in their speech and were enfoliated with their thoughts; they supplied flowers to their rhetoric, passion to their eloquence, and vigor to their action. Moreover political sympathy walked hand in hand with social intercourse; such mutual endearments being occasionally supplemented by intermarriages between the members of families who thus knew and respected one another. Such results were natural and desirable, and it is only matter[Pg 9] for surprise that they did not more frequently take place. However, the comparatively few examples afforded convenient ground for objection and enabled political opponents to indicate such alliances by a name which, though innocent enough in itself, was obnoxious to historical disfavor in other lands, and to local jealousy in their own. Thus the term “family compact” in Canada, like the term nepotism elsewhere, became a phrase of offence, and did much to prejudice the party to which it was applied. There was enough of truth in it to make it stick, and enough of evil to be deduced from it to make it injurious; and since no one could reason successfully against the parish register, or cleverly overcome what the clergyman had certified to be true, men were constrained to give a qualified acquiescence to what they could not actually explain away.

If, however, the crown and sceptre, the mitre and crozier, symbolized to the church and king party of Canada the sources through which all authority flowed; that party appeared nevertheless to be imbued with the old Whig doctrine, that such authority should be administered in a patrician way, and by the representatives of families who had been conspicuous for their faith and devotion to the king’s cause. Thus the practice of the eighteenth century Whigs in England seemed in a very emphatic way to be appropriated by the nineteenth century Tories in Canada, for though the two parties differed in their principles of government, they were tolerably well agreed on the mode in which government should be administered. The English Whigs were of opinion that the ministers of the crown should be selected from members of those great families who had made sacrifices for the revolution, and had mainly contributed to its success. The Canadian Tories in like manner were of opinion that such ministers should be chosen from the members of those royalist families who had lost everything but honor in the King’s service in America. Neither were reasons wanting to sustain their view. In opening the first session of the[Pg 10] first parliament of Upper Canada at Newark, now Niagara, on the 17th of September, 1792, His Excellency Lieutenant Governor Simcoe thus addressed the two Houses:

“The great and momentous trusts and duties which have been committed to the representatives of this Province in a degree infinitely beyond what ever, till this period, have distinguished any other Colony, have originated from the British nation upon a just consideration of the energy and hazard with which the inhabitants of this Province have so conspicuously supported and defended the British Constitution.”

The idea thus promulgated that special privileges had been conferred for special services, and that such privileges included among other advantages the blessing of living under a constitution, which in the words of the Governor last quoted was to be “the image and transcript of the British constitution,” had taken fast hold of the popular mind. Upper Canada was to be the theatre of a fresh experiment, and the earliest inhabitants in “consideration of the energy and hazard” they had shown in the King’s service were to be entrusted with the duty of applying that experiment. The constitution of the mother country in church and state was, as the most of them believed, to be naturalized there, and American royalists who had lost their properties by revolution were to enjoy their principles in peace.

After the wars in Europe and America had come to an end, the tide of emigration set strongly towards Canada from the United States and from Europe. The class of new arrivals included, of course, a large number of American immigrants, who had renounced monarchical institutions, and a large number of English and Scotch ones, who disliked them. The intrusive opinions of such unwelcomed settlers very soon became apparent in the new forms which political agitation assumed. The following extracts will enable us to glimpse at the novel tactics, and teach us how such tactics startled the parliament of that day.

In 1818, when Mr. Robinson was Attorney General, though without a seat in parliament, Sir Peregrine Maitland in opening the[Pg 11] Legislature on the 12th of October, 1818, took occasion to recommend that “should it appear that a convention of delegates cannot exist without danger to the constitution; in framing a law of prevention, your dispassionate wisdom will be careful that it shall not unwarily trespass on the sacred right of the subject, to seek a redress of his grievances by petition.” In their answer, His Majesty’s faithful Commons observed that, “we remember that this favored land was assigned to our fathers, as a retreat for suffering loyalty, and not as a sanctuary for sedition.” And they concluded with an intimation, “that they would carefully distinguish between such conventions and the lawful act of the subject in petitioning for a redress of real or imaginary grievances.” Two days afterwards, the following very significant resolution is found in the journals.

Moved by Mr. Jones, seconded by Mr. Vankoughnet, and

“Resolved,—that no known member of the meeting of persons styling themselves delegates from the different districts of this Province, shall be allowed a seat within the bar of this House.” The resolution was adopted. Two members only, Messrs. Secord and Casey, voting “nay.”

Examples might be multiplied in illustration of their belief, who conscientiously held that the “Province of Canada was set apart as a retreat for suffering loyalty,” and who, therefore, felt bound to protect their “retreat” from the machinations of those who would turn it into a “sanctuary for sedition.” Although it is easy to sneer at what in modern parlance would probably be termed a Japanese policy, it is nevertheless fair to remember at what sacrifice, the “retreat” had been obtained, for whose especial use it was in the first place set apart, and by what guarantees it was supposed to be secured.

Besides such considerations, the old loyalists did not addict themselves to the habit of rapid thought. Thus when the nineteenth century was thirty years old, they had scarcely moved beyond the historical cycle in which the eighteenth century opinions were formed.[Pg 12] They were the war politics of old England, which they had studied and which they continued to study; the politics of immobility and resistance, of scorn and defiance, of prejudice and contempt,—such politics as were probably adapted to the duties and exigences of very perilous times, when the constitution was battered by those storms of opinion which beat against it from republican America and revolutionary France. The majority of the loyalists were Episcopalians, and thought as men were accustomed to think at that day, that “church and state” were one and indivisible. They attached value to the protests and subscriptions which guarded the former, and the oaths and tests which fenced the latter. They caressed a prejudice or an aversion with as much tenderness as they obeyed a law or reverenced a custom. In short, they were “good old Tory gentlemen of the olden time,” who followed the course of English history with leisurely deliberation, and analyzed every change of English opinion with suspicious avoidance, and who consequently found themselves unprepared to discuss a project of amelioration, or a question of reform, in any other attitude than the attitude of resistance, or with any other arguments than those which time had rendered threadbare or which experience had made worthless.

In passing, we may observe that in Upper as in Lower Canada, the principle of representation according to population appears, from the introduction of constitutional government in 1791, to have been the guiding principle. In furtherance of this principle, a bill was passed in 1819, by which a progressive increase in the representation was provided for, and it was in virtue of this enactment, that in the year 1821, the Attorney General took his seat as member for the town of York. In the following year, he went to England as a commissioner to arrange some important matters connected with the revenue at that time collected at the port of Quebec. For his services on that occasion, he received the thanks of Parliament. In 1824, he had to contest his election against Mr. Duggan, the late coroner, and he won it by a majority of three votes only.

[Pg 13]

In the course of that parliament, he introduced his famous alien bills. The first was to naturalize aliens, and the second to provide for the disposition of the estates of aliens. It is said that these bills occasioned much excitement, and were disliked, because they were supposed to be especially beneficial to the party whose chief had introduced them. There is little doubt the prejudice existed, though we are not aware of the reason for it. In those days, it was contrary to public policy to offer encouragement to foreigners to resolve themselves suddenly into British subjects. The bill was introduced, it may be conjectured, because in the interests of property, as well as of individuals, an alien law was required. Moreover, had the initiative not been taken by the Tory party, the liberal party would most probably have committed themselves to a more extreme measure of relief, and thus have added a new care to their anxieties, who wished to preserve unimpaired “the retreat for suffering loyalty.” The bills passed both houses, but they were reserved for the signification of the King’s pleasure, and did not become laws.

While thus engaged in his contest over the alien bills, the Attorney General was offered the appointment of Chief Justice of the island of Mauritius, which he declined. In 1825, it was proposed to elevate him to the bench as Chief Justice of Upper Canada, but he then preferred his place in parliament and his practice at the bar. In 1827, he engaged in his last election contest, beating his opponent, Dr. Morrison, by a respectable majority. Sharp political battles were waged in those days, and as a matter of course, the Attorney General, as crown prosecutor, was always retained on the side of authority and law. It was not the custom then, to treat a newspaper libel with silence. A falsehood like any other venomous thing could not be propagated with impunity. Such offences against morals and decency were regarded as nuisances to be abated. Hence arose indictments, fines, and occasionally criminal convictions. Whatever advantage society derived from the[Pg 14] punishment of such offences, the result was then, as now, in matters of libel, attended with a loss of good-will to the prosecutor, and the gain of sympathy to the culprit. In the course of his duty, the Attorney General conducted cases for political libels against the publishers of the Colonial Advocate, and the Freeman newspapers, published at Toronto, and the Herald published at Kingston. One editor was condemned to a £50 fine, which was paid without difficulty by public subscription, and to one year’s imprisonment, of which no sympathy could relieve him. That it was easier to wheedle the public than to cajole authority, will occasion no surprize.

The time, however, had arrived when the Attorney General was to be relieved of such disagreeable duties, and exchange the foremost place at the bar for the highest one on the bench. In 1829, on the retirement of Sir William Campbell from the office of Chief Justice, he was appointed his successor. On the 1st of January, 1830, during the administration of Sir John Colborne, he was called to the Legislative Council, and on the following day, nominated Speaker of that house. On the meeting of parliament on the 8th of January, he was introduced by the Archdeacon of York and the Hon. Mr. Baby, and “took his seat.” From then until the close of his political career, the journals and records of parliament bear ample testimony to the steady consistency, unwearied industry and scrupulous fairness with which he discharged the duties of his office. As may easily be supposed, his conservative thought tinges almost all the important papers of the period, for his style may be easily detected even in documents that do not bear his name. Not only was he the official head of that council, but to a great extent his was the governing mind as well as the governing party of the house. In the first session in which he presided, a very long and interesting report, which evidently bears the impress of his brain, although it is signed by another member as chairman, occurs against the passing of a bill sent up from the House of Assembly, for the more equal distribution of the property of persons dying[Pg 15] intestate. The report is interesting for its own sake, but it is especially so as illustrating the persistent tenacity with which the Chief Justice clung to English customs and English laws. The law of primogeniture is referred to with unqualified complacency. Neither are reasons for such opinions concealed. In the absence of a titled aristocracy, it was we think, a cherished conceit of his to lay the foundation of a settled landed influence in Canada. On matters ecclesiastical, he appears to have concurred generally with the Bishop of Toronto in opinion, even to the extent of thinking that the established church of England and Ireland was, by the constitution, the established national church in all the dominions of the crown, except Scotland, and, consequently, the established church of Canada. Wherefore, he steadily opposed their efforts, who sought to lower the status or appropriate the property of the Anglican Church. The church lands called clergy reserves, had been, in his opinion, solemnly set apart for religious uses, and from such uses they should not with his consent be withdrawn. The like rule governed his proceedings with respect to the spoil of the university of King’s College. He resisted both, not only because they were in his opinion contrary to law and right, but because they were opposed to true religion and sound morals. His ear was not attuned to the music of reform, neither was his mind attracted towards persons because they were reformers. He saw nothing but difficulty in the dogma of responsible government, he doubted its excellence, and was moved by no affected alarm when he expressed the fear that a government based on such a dogma could not co-exist with a state of colonial dependence.

Reforms that are worth having are generally brought about slowly, and it may be, that in the interests of law and order, the public is as much indebted to the caution of one party, as to the enthusiasm of the other. The Chief Justice belonged to the party of resistance. As evils of monstrous growth frequently proceed from the minutest seed, so was it that his loyal mind discovered[Pg 16] the germ of peril in almost every concession, and a tendency to revolution in almost all reform. The great constitutional changes, which immediately preceded the time at which he became Speaker, as well as those equally important alterations in the law which were contemporaneous with his tenure of that office, were calculated to exert and probably did exert an influence on his mind, for they were destined very materially to increase the power of the popular party in the Legislature of Canada. The western frontier of the province was so far secure, that any American opinion which crossed the line was commonly regarded as attainted and revolutionary. It sufficed that it came that way to be branded as unworthy, for the old loyalists would no more receive their politics from a republic than they would receive their morals from a penitentiary. Now, however, the liberal tide had set in from the opposite quarter. Intelligence from the British Islands rolled over the Atlantic with startling rapidity that measures of amelioration and reform were being prosecuted there with continuous perseverance. The repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, Catholic Emancipation, the Reform Bill, and the Bill appropriating the revenues of the Irish Church, followed one another with bewildering haste. People soon learned, if indeed they required to be taught, that there were no grievances that could not be removed by persistent agitation, and no questions that were beyond, or above, the jurisdiction of parliament. In turning to the Canadian narrative of those times the observation will probably occur to many, that all the great questions by which the country was then agitated, and which were opposed, and conscientiously opposed by the Chief Justice and his party as dangerous or revolutionary, have been carried not only without revolution or apparent danger, but as hopeful people think with every promise of security and content.

The Chief Justice had conscientiously supported the policy of Sir Peregrine Maitland, Sir John Colborne, and Sir Francis Bond Head, and they in turn had firmly upheld the party of which he was the[Pg 17] unquestioned leader. Sympathizing in opinion with Sir Francis Head, he had steadily opposed the project for re-uniting the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. Towards the Earl of Durham he felt little respect, and with his opinions he had no sympathy. The plan recommended by that nobleman for the future government of Canada was contrary to his views, and the animadversions contained in the report on the party to which he belonged were felt to be unfair, opposed as some thought to good taste, and inconsistent as many believed with strict truth. It was suggested, and with much reason, that the history and services of the loyalists and their descendants deserved a better acknowledgment than a sneer.

In 1839, the Chief Justice applied for and obtained leave of absence. He made a long visit to England, where his society was especially sought for by all who took any interest in Canada or its affairs. Among the numerous social attentions which he received, he had the honor of being the guest of the Duke of Wellington, at Strathfieldsaye, and his recollection of the Duke at home appeared, as it was very well calculated to be, a pleasant episode in his history. It was, we believe, during this visit, that he received from the university of Oxford the complimentary degree of D. C. L.

Although he went to England to recruit his health, it was neither a quiet nor an idle time he was allowed to pass there. The Legislative Council of Upper Canada thought the opportunity favorable for letting all whom it concerned know that they were game to the last, and in spite of Earl Durham’s report, in spite of the conclusions of English statesmen and of the hopeless character of the proceeding, they resolved on the 4th of April, 1839, “that the sentiments, opinions, and remedies set forth in their report of the previous session on the state of the province, had undergone no change.” They sent a copy of their resolution to the Chief Justice, by way of strengthening his hands in the course of opposition which they were desirous he should take. And as if such a[Pg 18] general commission were insufficient, on the 11th of the following month, they adopted the following resolution by way of ryder to the first:—

11th May, 1839.

“Resolved,—That the Honorable John Beverly Robinson, Chief Justice of this Province, now in England, be requested on behalf of this House to bring under the notice of our most gracious Queen the financial affairs of this Province with a view of inducing Her Majesty’s Government to extend its credit, to obtain a loan by means of which our present embarrassments may be relieved and our public works completed, and generally to represent the interests of this Province.”

Thus it was that the Council over which he presided laid upon him the ungracious and hopeless task of opposing the scheme for re-uniting the provinces. Of course he did what was expected of him and he did it well. The practical separation which has since taken place of the provinces, whose union he sought to avert, should we think be accepted as a compliment to his sagacity and foresight. His pamphlet, though interesting and voluminous, produced but little effect. As an historical and descriptive essay on Canada it was useful as well as instructive. Such objects, however, were but secondary to the great purpose for which it was written, and that purpose it failed to serve.

While he was thus shewing cause in England why the Canada bill should not become law, a nobleman of singular ability, subtle knowledge and intuitive perception, was laying the foundation of a very unique triumph, at the expense of the party whose opinions the Chief Justice had been charged to advocate. Moreover the operation was going on at Beverly house, Toronto, his own residence, which was temporarily occupied by that nobleman, His Excellency Baron Sydenham, the Governor General of the Province. The piece of strategy was nothing less than to bring about a reversal of the recorded opinions of the Legislative Council and House of Assembly as published in their elaborate reports on the state of the province in 1838; and in the case of the former body reiterated with a dashing emphasis in 1839. We need scarcely add[Pg 19] that His Excellency’s flank movement was amusingly successful. Happily the Chief Justice did not again take his seat as Speaker of the Legislative Council, and he was therefore not required to be present at the performance of those remarkable somersaults which certain middle aged gentlemen accomplished with surprising adroitness. Such proceedings in the house of his friends, and with their opinions to the contrary so recently recorded, would have been a spectacle of humiliation from which he would gladly have averted his head. If, however, some of the members of that Council forgot their previous votes, or saw reason to change them, not one of them forgot their absent and high minded Speaker, or the honor which was due to his worth and character. On the last day of the last parliament of Upper Canada the following resolution is found on the journals.

10th February, 1840.

“Resolved,—That the members of this House before separating at the close of probably their last session, desire to express their regret that indisposition should have caused the prolonged absence of the Honorable Mr. Robinson from his seat in this House, and they unite in the hope that he will speedily be restored to the country to pursue with renovated health and strength that laborious and distinguished career which has been so fruitful of honor to himself and of benefit to his fellow subjects.”

It was then eighteen years since the Chief Justice began his parliamentary career, the period of his services being about evenly divided between the two houses. Like other persons he had probably become conscious of the modification of some opinions and of the change of others. His impressions of men generally were more generous, and his estimate of their convictions more fair. In some instances he may have reversed the judgment of his youth, and in others have qualified it with the grace of charity, for he was too wise a man to be controlled by a prejudice which would not discriminate, or to be governed by an opinion when the reason for it had passed away. Still the leading principles of his early life were conspicuous to the last; loyalty to his Queen, and duty to his country[Pg 20] according to the old version, were with him the root of conduct, and the end of endeavor.

Physically, morally, and intellectually, he was the beau ideal of a loyalist, for on his fair and ingenuous brow nature had stamped the lineaments of gentleman. To rare facial beauty were added great powers of physical endurance. He had the inclinations of a sportsman, and the tastes of a naturalist, though he had not the time to gratify one or to cultivate the other. His lithe, handsome, well-knit figure was rarely seen to greater advantage, neither was the mood of his mind more naturally displayed, than when with a step buoyant with elasticity, he walked across the common in the vicinity of Toronto, as if he were treading the heather, and from sheer playfulness of thought, or the sense of seclusion, would level his umbrella, as if it were a fowling piece, at a stray duck or pigeon that might cross his path, or stoop to examine a wild flower that had grown among the grass. He was of fair complexion, and as the Apollo is represented, with little or no whiskers. Our photograph will better illustrate than we can describe the form of his well-balanced head, poised to perfection, his unembarrassed brow gracefully mapped with the delicate lines of thought, forming a fitting crown to features as regular in their outline as they were benevolent in their expression. Such accessories are advantages, for they produce at once what men less favored of nature must work for if they would win, namely, a good impression. Moreover, taste, culture, and association added their contributions to the wealth which nature had bestowed, making the question of difficult determination whether she or her accessories had most to do in combining the graces of “a right gentleman.” In truth there were brought together in his manner, points that are not commonly found in the same character. He was frank, cordial, and courteous. He could listen with as much apparent earnestness as he could speak, and it was therefore pleasant to observe the high-bred patience with which he seemed to receive[Pg 21] information on matters upon which the spectator knew him to be fully informed. Unquestionably he held strong opinions on many subjects, and yet it is difficult to recall the occasion on which he expressed such opinions in any other language than the language of gentleness. Though he was not in the popular sense an impassioned or a forcible speaker—he was an elegant and a correct one, for he spoke as he wrote with exactness and precision. His thoughts were always clothed in the drapery of well-chosen words, and those words were by him rhythmically modulated, and syllabled to harmony. In his manner, there were combined physical repose and intellectual earnestness, for he used little or no action when speaking, neither was his face disturbed by feeling or distorted by gesture. On the contrary, he appeared to speak with his lips only, and the flexible cadences of which his voice was capable, were apparently produced with no greater effort than that which an accomplished flutist displays when he bids his instrument breathe music. It may easily be conjectured that from inclination and taste he was better suited to the serene atmosphere of the Legislative Council, than to the rougher breezes of the House of Assembly. Indeed it was a curious and pleasant spectacle to note the former body in “the good old times” when the Chief Justice was Speaker, when Dr. Powell was clerk, when the Rev. Dr. Phillips was chaplain, when Colonel Stephen Jarvis was black rod, and when Lewis Bright, aged eighty-eight, fulfilled the double duty of chief messenger and page. The members were few in number, for six only were required to form a quorum, yet they seemed to make up in dignity what they lacked in variety, as a becoming state was observed by them, and an elaborate one by the officials when the House was in session. The Speaker, Clerk, Chaplain, and Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod always appeared in full dress, unless properly excused, including breeches, buckles, and the various accessories of the ancient style. Such observances were not without advantage, for they encouraged the notion that one and all, from[Pg 22] the Speaker to the Page, should endeavor to do everything well; that no work, however insignificant, should be slurred, and no duty, however trifling, should be slighted. Method and punctuality, order and rule were conspicuous in everything the Chief Justice did; what he said was spoken with scrupulous propriety, what he wrote, whether for the Legislature or for the Courts, was written with singular care. Extreme exactness marked all his proceedings, from such seeming trifles as dress and costume to the gravest duties which he was called upon to perform. The influence which he thus exerted in small as well as in great things, had a purifying as well as an elevating tendency, for it not only guided the tone of debate, but it seemed to control the language in which debates should be carried on. Having assimilated his conduct to his principles, it was not difficult for him to illustrate both in his sentiments and behavior. All men honored him, many men loved him, and even those who differed from him in opinion, and had opposed him in politics, were ready to admit that he was a gentle as well as a chivalrous enemy, incapable of meanness, and guiltless of revenge.

It was, if we recollect right, soon after the rebellion had been suppressed in Upper Canada, that he was offered and received permission to decline the honor of knighthood. Subsequently he was created a Companion of the Bath, and on the 21st September, 1854, raised to the dignity of a Baronet.

Events hurried on apace. The Provinces were united and the Chief Justice was relieved of all further duty in Parliament. Thenceforward his history and career must be looked for either amongst the charities of life, or in the records of the court of which he was a chief ornament. From the time when his connection with political affairs closed, he ceased to be the property of a party. Then, and to the end of his life, he belonged to the province, and consequently his pure character and ripe benevolence exerted their natural influence. He grew irresistibly and with noiseless force in the good will and affections of the whole people. The hard feelings[Pg 23] of former days had become modified. Time, the healer, had softened many asperities. The course of events had done much towards clearing up what was obscure, while greater knowledge, and perhaps a broader charity combined with a healthier tone of feeling had induced a fairer judgment on the past. Men no longer remembered the ardent politician and his skirmishes at elections; they only recollected the upright judge, and his consistent and laborious life. Thus when it pleased Her most gracious Majesty to select him for honor, his countrymen recognized the excellence of the choice, and accepted the compliment with grateful pride, as if indeed they had some share in its fame. There was no mental reservation in the general verdict, for all concurred in opinion that he was worthy for whom their Queen had done this.

Sir John Beverly Robinson continued to discharge the duties of his office until 1862, when age and the increased violence of that fell enemy to rest, hereditary gout, admonished him that he could no longer fulfil them with satisfaction or advantage. Whereupon he resigned his office and accepted the less onerous one of President of the Court of Appeals. For thirty-three years he had filled with singular ability the situation which the heavy hand of time now admonished him to lay aside. Obedience to the admonition, required that he should separate himself from duties which for the most part had constituted his life, and from friends who had done much towards making that life enjoyable. The kindly intercourse which had existed between him and the bar could not be brought to an end without a twinge on his part and a regret on theirs. As is usual with English people, when they “welcome the coming or speed the parting guest,” the farewell celebration took the form of a social solemnity—one of those grand ceremonies of Anglo Saxon civilization, which seemed to have been specially adapted to the uses and suited to the habits of the race. A banquet, described at the time as the most magnificent that had ever taken place in Upper Canada, was given by the Law Society in[Pg 24] honor of the Chief Justice. It was not only the most usual, but perhaps the most convenient way of gathering in one hall those who were anxious to show their personal respect to, and at the same time to hear the last official words of one, the record of whose worth and services would remain among the precious historical possessions of Canada.

Our space permits only a desultory sketch of Sir John Beverly Robinson, but there was a phase of his character which should not be overlooked, for doubtless the principle it represented exerted a most important influence on his life. He was a sincere and steadfast member of the Anglican Church; he reverenced her authority, gloried in her history, and loved her with a jealous love. No doubt he shared their disappointment who discovered that the established church of England was not the established church of Canada. No doubt, too, he sympathized keenly in their regret, who had been called upon to witness the spoil of church property, and the alienation of clergy and college lands. But, mourn as he might, the issue had been tried and decided against him. He had not the power, perhaps not the wish to alter the decision. Grievous as were the losses which his church had thus suffered, they were not without at least one equivalent. The sneer of the scoffer was silenced, who objected that the Anglican church in Canada was merely a political organization for party purposes. To the honor of the Chief Justice be it written; neither indifference nor inaction succeeded to disappointment. On the contrary, he took his familiar place beside his Bishop, and earnestly addressed himself to the duties which the occasion called forth. If the church of his fathers and of his affections, we may suppose him to have said, is not established by law, then it is time it were established in the hearts of the people. It is time that it should be as popular in its influence as it is liberal in its doctrines. It is time that the weary should find rest within its walls, and that the humble should be exalted in its courts. Let us seek in love what has eluded us in law, and thus[Pg 25] obtain from the free will offerings of Christian people some compensation for the alienation of the free gifts of a Christian King. Hence it followed that in church society organizations of different kinds, the Chief Justice was always a zealous co-operator. Again, when the charter of King’s college was destroyed, and its name, together with the chief purpose of its incorporation, blotted out of our laws, he gave all the aid in his power, and it was no slight aid, to the Bishop of Toronto, in his project to erect and endow Trinity college. The writer well remembers the day on which that college was opened for work. Indeed, the thrill of emotion with which the Chief Justice concluded his impressive speech, like some remembered notes of a forgotten overture, still vibrates in his ear. In the ecstatic accents of devout passion, from the very fulness of his heart, from the very depths of his soul, he reverently rehearsed to a sympathetic audience that

“Ours is no new faith. It is not from the Reformation that the Church of England dates her existence. We are not separated from other Christian communities in consequence of any recent adoption on our part of a doubtful interpretation of some text of scripture, or any modern scruple in regard to forms. Nothing else that we most fondly venerate—not the glorious flag of England, nor the great charter of our liberties, has, from its antiquity, so strong a claim to our devotion as our Church. It is the Church which, from age to age, the sovereign has sworn to support; centuries have passed since holy martyrs have perished at the stake, rather than deny her doctrines; and the soil of England is hallowed by the dust of countless worthies who have sunk to their rest professing her creed, and invoking blessings on her labors, after lives illustrated by piety and learning, and devoted in the purest spirit to the welfare of mankind.”

The Chief Justice was unanimously elected the first Chancellor of the university which he had thus helped to found. The incident may supply a biographical parallel. It was more than a century and a half since Christopher Robinson, the first member of the family who settled in America, was elected as one of the first trustees of “William and Mary” college, then recently built in Virginia. Generation after generation had sunk to rest, cradled it may have been with the prayers of the church they had loved so well, when[Pg 26] the son of another Christopher Robinson, the founder of the Canadian branch of the same family, was chosen as the first Chancellor of the newly erected university of Trinity college at Toronto. Neither the whim of a “vain fancy,” nor a pride that affects humility: neither knowledge that too frequently usurps the place of goodness; neither time, nor distance, nor adversity had shaken the devotion of the family to the church of their fathers. It was their “mother dear” before and through all those rolling years. In prosperity and in perils the race seem to have cherished the same faith and worshipped according to the same forms—and who shall wonder that religion as practiced by Sir John was “beautiful exceedingly” bright, glistening, and glorious, for he exemplified in his life the hallowing charms of holiness. Religion with him was no intangible thing. It was a pleasure, for it visibly increased his apparent happiness. It was a habit, whose root was nourished by exact duty. It was a rapture, but it was not dependent for its subsistence on the caprice of feeling. His faith was neither noisy nor disputatious. It did not chatter piteously like an ague, when menaced with the fever, or moan plaintively like the east wind when it beckons the storm. On the contrary, it was cordial and smiling, humble and sincere. It was distressed by no doubt, embarrassed with no difficulty, and desirous of no change. No change! except indeed that blissful one on which christian people fervently believe the good Sir John entered when on the 31st January, 1863, he laid aside the burden of life; closed his tired eyes

“And gave the sign to parting friends.”

[Pg 27]



Was born at Paisley, in Scotland, in 1798, and accompanied his family to Canada in 1801. He was educated at Sorel, by Mr. Nelson, the father of the late Dr. Wolfred Nelson of Montreal.

We have elsewhere, in our notice of the Honorable William Morris, referred at some length to the family narrative, and it will therefore suffice in this place, to observe that on leaving school, Mr. James Morris followed his brother’s example and engaged in commercial pursuits. Like him, though in a less striking degree, he mingled reflections on public affairs with his occupations as a trader, and hence when he retired from business he was not without the local repute of possessing qualifications to serve the state.

Another circumstance added to the influence he exerted in the neighborhood. On withdrawing from business he was appointed manager of the Commercial Bank at Brockville. In those days bankers did not deem it to be inconsistent with a sound policy to multiply small loans. Mr. Morris in the interests of the bank was accustomed to make advances of convenience to farmers, on the security of their promissory notes. This policy of accommodation was attended with substantial benefits to farmers, for it supplied them with capital to turn forests into fruitful fields; as well as with advantage to the shareholders whose profits were supposed to be increased by such transactions. The double result re-acted favorably[Pg 28] on Mr. Morris, for when he presented himself as a candidate for parliamentary honors, many whom he had befriended as a banker, voted for him as a member. The bank authorities too, having an eye to casual advantages, were probably not without hope that his parliamentary influence might occasionally be turned to profitable account. Neither were the policy of the banker or the expectations of the bank discredited by the result. On the contrary, it was asserted by Mr. Morris as a matter of boast, that no loss had befallen the bank by his transactions with farmers; and it was published by him as a matter of fact, though we decline to discuss the moral aspect of the admission, that substantial advantages had accrued to the bank from the political influence he had exerted in its behalf.

In 1837, he was elected to the House of Assembly of Upper Canada, as one of the members for Leeds, and at the union of the provinces, in 1841, he was re-elected for the same county. On the 27th November, 1844, he was called to the Legislative Council. On the 22nd February, 1851, he joined the Lafontaine-Baldwin administration as Post Master General, of which office he was the first incumbent. On the 17th August, 1853, he was appointed Speaker of the Legislative Council, which office he retained until the 10th of September, 1854. On the formation of the Brown-Dorion administration, in 1858, he was re-appointed Speaker of the Legislative Council with a seat in the cabinet. The administration lasted for three days only. Being its only representative in the Legislative Council, Mr. Morris found his position to be in the last degree uncomfortable, for apart from questions of order with which he was officially called upon to deal, he was required in a very troublesome way to explain the policy of his colleagues, on certain important matters on which neither he nor they were either fully informed or fully agreed. Moreover, as an address of want of confidence in the administration had been adopted by the Legislative Council, he as “mouth of the House” was required to read it to the[Pg 29] Governor General, to whom it was addressed. Duties of form are not necessarily inseparable from twinges of feeling, and it must have been a trial to flesh and spirit for a gentleman so placed, to have read a document so expressed.

He remained in opposition until the 24th May, 1862, when on the formation of the Sandfield Macdonald-Sicotte administration he was appointed Receiver General and leader of the government in the Legislative Council. When thus engaged he was seized with severe illness, and on the 10th May, 1863, he was compelled to resign. His health became more feeble, and notwithstanding his conscientious desire to attend to his duties in Parliament, his ability to do so had passed away. He made, if we recollect aright, one effort more in the following session to appear, but nature refused to second the exertion. He sorrowfully turned his back for the last time on occupations with which he had been familiar for nearly twenty years, and on a place which was to know him no more for ever. The remainder of his days were we believe such days of weariness and such nights of unrest as generally go before the long night that comes to all. At last, surrounded by his family and solaced by his friends, on the autumn festival of St. Michael and all angels, in the year 1865, he “faded as a leaf,” and was gathered to his rest.

As a public man Mr. Morris was conscientious and painstaking, a lover of exact work and an observer of exact seasons. With few salient points of character, he nevertheless exerted a good deal of influence. Though a kind and a virtuous man, his mind as we think was preternaturally anxious, and his temperament was overtoned with despondency. He attached himself with fidelity to the fortunes of the reform party, and apparently voted with it because it was their due rather than his preference. He was we think more influenced by individual character than by individual opinion, for like a Quaker he attached great virtue to the quality of respectability. While he coveted for himself the best gifts, he set no light value on small accessories, such as neatness and method, [Pg 30](for he relished details,) becoming language and suitable apparel. He liked office, and though wealthy, was not indifferent to its emoluments, but he shrank from responsibility. He appreciated honors, but he disliked criticism. He had a morbid dread of newspaper animadversion, and a speech delivered with violence or accompanied with gesture would make him take refuge in silence. On the other hand compliments soothed him, and popular applause, such for example as that which associated him with the act for cheap postage, was flannel to his heart. His dislike of responsibility was we think illustrated in his desire to relieve others of a burden which distressed him. Thus, as a member of the Legislature his policy was to put responsibility into commission by laying on irresponsible committees, burdens which belonged to responsible individuals. But notwithstanding this peculiarity of his character, his services on committees were especially sought for by successive administrations. He looked vigilantly into items, for Poor Richard’s maxim on “taking care of the pence,” was by no means undervalued by him. He was singularly careful on the subject of economic details, but curiously indifferent to the greater value of economic principles. He would give votes “in the interests of the people,” without regard to the fact that expense and such votes too frequently went hand in hand, and he would recommend retrenchment in the interests of the country irrespective of the causes which occasioned the waste. We do not know that Mr. Morris held the opinions so playfully quizzed by Canning, that virtue might be promoted through the agency of counteracting vices; yet there can be little doubt that he did seek by one excess to overcome another; by the vice of parsimony for example he sought to neutralize the vice of prodigality, as if the evil of extravagant principles could be overcome by the application of astringent details. But though his political principles were frequently crossed by his commercial habits, his desire to do what he believed to be right was always uppermost.

[Pg 31]



Though an Englishman by birth, Mr. Price always wore the leek in his heart if not in his hat band on St. David’s day, for his parents, Richard Price and Mary Evans, as well as their more remote ancestors, were natives of Glamorganshire in the principality of Wales. During their temporary residence at Hornsey, Middlesex, their third son, the subject of this sketch, was born on the 17th September, 1789.

He was educated at Hammersmith College, in the vicinity of London, and, subsequently, articled to his father’s cousin, Mr. Lloyd Jones, of the Inner Temple. Before six months had elapsed, his father died, and his son’s circumstances were so changed by the event, that he abandoned the profession he had chosen, and entered the counting house of Christopher Idler & Co., merchants of London. After six years service, he was sent by his employers to Quebec, where he landed on the 10th May, 1810. He had been charged by them with the responsible duty of carrying out their contracts for supplying the British Navy with timber, masts, and spars.

After his engagement with Messrs. Idler & Co. terminated, Mr. Price commenced business for himself at Quebec. He entered into partnership with the late Honorable Peter McGill of Montreal, Mr. Kenneth Dowie of Liverpool, and Messrs. James[Pg 32] Dowie and Gould of London. The business thus established was very extensive. It was carried on not only on the Ottawa and its tributaries, but from Lake Superior to Gaspé, and the coast of Labrador. In 1838, however, such transactions were somewhat contracted in their extent, as Mr. Price desired to alter the character of his operations by embarking more exclusively in the sawed lumber business at the head of the river Saguenay. Thus extensive mills were erected there, and thus, through the energy and liberality of Mr. Price, was that important section of the country opened to colonization and settlement.

Those manufacturing establishments which now present picturesque attractions to tourist and traveller, were at that time shut out from approach by the most serious natural obstacles. Except the liquid pathway afforded by the Saguenay river, which is useless for winter service, there was no road to the new works. As, however, it was necessary for the proprietor to visit his possessions, Mr. Price was obliged, at least, once during each winter, to walk to and fro, a distance of nearly two hundred miles on snow-shoes, to accomplish his object. No better monument could be erected for him, as an old friend of Mr. Price’s touchingly observed to the writer, than the one he built to his own memory in the settlement of the Saguenay country.

During the American war of 1812, having received the King’s commission of major, Mr. Price raised a troop of cavalry, and afterwards organized a battery of artillery at Quebec. In the following year, he was selected by Sir George Prevost, to carry despatches to Halifax. The journey was necessarily performed through British territory, and in the safest as well as in the most direct manner. The season was winter, and the route was therefore made partly by land and partly by water, in a sleigh where a road existed, but generally on snow-shoes. It was accomplished in the short space of ten days. Having discharged his duty, he stayed at Halifax for pleasure. Not only did he there acquire an enviable stock [Pg 33]of charming navy stories, but he remained sufficiently long to witness a sight he was never likely to forget, and to experience a sensation that became a rapture for the remainder of his life. He saw the victor’s trophy in as fair a naval duel as was ever fought by gallant men for the honor of their flags. He saw the American frigate Chesapeake towed into Halifax harbor a prize to the Shannon! The extraordinary excitement which that heart stirring scene occasioned, used to repeat itself in his description, as he narrated how well Vere Broke had fought his ship “in the brave days of old.”

As a Canadian politician Mr. Price was liberal and tolerant, and hence his name is cherished as a household word in many a wayside cottage. So indifferent was he to mere local issues, that for nearly fifty-seven years he was scarcely known to record a vote at an election. He was content to recognize differences of opinion on many points, if all agreed that these noble provinces should remain part and parcel of the British Empire. As an English politician he belonged to the old Tory school, for “ships, colonies and commerce,” were his watchwords. He detested the “Manchester sect,” and never concealed his conviction that sooner or later the Empire would be disgraced, if not dishonored and dismembered, through their mischievous counsels. He had no inclination to enter political life, and though repeatedly invited by one Governor General after another to take a seat in the Legislative Council, he steadily declined the proffered honor.

Mr. Price lived in an unpretentious oblong cottage, with several gables, suited to the modesty of his tastes. The situation was naturally beautiful and historically attractive, for it was a lawn-like enclosure which was once used by the conqueror of Canada as the vestibule to one of the decisive battles of the world. Between it and the river St. Lawrence are those precipitous cliffs, and intimidating defiles, through which the genius of Wolfe led his army to the heights of Abraham, and, on the 13th of September, 1759, to[Pg 34] the victory of Quebec, a victory which apparently gave the American continent to the undisputed sway of the Anglo-Saxon race. There, on that historical plateau, fittingly called “Wolfesfield,” Mr. Price lived admired and beloved, and there too, on the 14th March, 1867, in his ripe old age, he died honored and lamented by all who have been taught to appreciate virtue or pay tribute to worth.

We may add that he married Jane Stewart, the third daughter of Mr. Charles Grey Stewart, in his lifetime comptroller of the Imperial Customs at Quebec. He survived this lady seven years. Death generally suggests mournful reflections, but it is especially calculated to do so when a class, so to speak, expires with an individual. The late Bishop of Quebec, Mr. LeMesurier, Mr. Price, and a few who still remain, so few, alas! that we might count them on the fingers of one hand, represented a type of the genus gentleman whose style and manner one searches for in vain in the present day. It is not that they were more charitable, or more open hearted, or open handed than men in their position are now, but what they did was differently done, and what they said was differently spoken. In truth, and we cannot express it more clearly, they belonged to the “old school.” The school whose manners were cordial, whose anecdotes were racy, and whose hospitality was as warm as the plates on which it was served. We trust that the charming old stories which gave brightness to the old times, have not vanished from Wolfesfield with the old Madeira which flavored them. If the wine be spent let us hope that the stories are “green sealed,” and put away in some of the precious bins of memory to be used occasionally when the nights are longest, when the fires are brightest, and the festivals include all that constitutes the happiness of home. At such a time betwixt smiles and tears, betwixt weeping and laughter, may many of the legatees of a good man’s recollections rehearse anew the unforgotten “twice told tales” of other days, and thus keep fresh and green the memory

Of a fine old English gentleman, one of the olden time.

[Pg 35]



All whom we have met with, or of whom we have heard, who bear the name of Tupper, traced their genealogy to one family, and to one place; for Guernsey is, and has for centuries been, its home and headquarters. But the quality and metal of the owners of that name have frequently been displayed beyond the island in which the race was cradled. The spirit of military adventure which besets a Guernsey man has carried representatives of the family to distant portions of the globe. Some have earned in South America a soldier’s fame and found a soldier’s grave; giving their lives for people who were not worthy of one drop of gentle blood being spent in their behalf. Others have found warlike occupations, and some have found peaceful ones, in the northern part of the same continent. But whether they settled in the United States, or in the colonies which now compose the Canadian Dominion, it is not, we venture to think, improbable that all derive from the same intrepid stock and the same sea-beat isle. Ferdinand Brock Tupper in his memoir of his uncle, Major General Sir Isaac Brock, mentions as a local tradition, that early in the seventeenth century, one of his direct or collateral relatives, a clergyman, settled at Barbadoes. Furthermore, that he or his family left that island and emigrated to the British provinces of North America. Thus then it may have chanced that[Pg 36] like the ancestors of Mr. Joseph Howe, the progenitors of Mr. Tupper took root in the royal as well as in the republican provinces. But to bring our speculative gossip down to the point which gave rise to it, we shall supplement what we have said by repeating an observation made in our hearing by one who, many years ago, saw the author of “Proverbial Philosophy,” and in 1864 saw the subject of this sketch. On Mr. Tupper being pointed out, the gentleman in question remarked a likeness to his literary namesake, and suggested to the writer that the delegate from Nova Scotia was probably a member of the old channel island family, whose roots lie deeply embedded in Guernsey soil.

Dismissing all fanciful conjectures, for they are nothing more, we may mention that the Hon. Charles Tupper is the son of the Rev. Charles Tupper, D.D. That he was born at Amherst, in the county of Cumberland, Nova Scotia, and is a graduate of Acadia College, in that province, where he studied medicine. In the course of time he went to Edinburgh, and won his degree of M.D., as well as his diploma of member of the Royal College of Surgeons of that university. On his return, he practiced his profession in his native place.

People, generally speaking, have confidence in their doctors, and doctors possess many facilities for strengthening such confidence. This mutual good feeling is not unfrequently manifested in the desire of the patient to forward the views of the doctor, and in the desire of the doctor to turn such good will to account by forwarding his own views. Such co-operation when it takes a political direction, is apparently opposed to the interests of both parties, for should success crown exertion it leads not only to the separation of the physician from his practice, but of the patient from the physician. Thus it may have happened in 1855, for when Mr. Tupper offered himself in the conservative interest as a member for Cumberland, he found little difficulty in obtaining his return. His party soon discovered that they had gained a valuable ally in securing [Pg 37]him. Indeed, he made his parliamentary mark as a debater at once. His style, as we conjecture, from glancing at the reports of the period, was argumentative as well as rhetorical, replete with substance, and by no means deficient in spice. On the 20th February, 1857, the liberal administration resigned, and the conservative party succeeded to power, Mr. Tupper accepting the office of Provincial Secretary. At the general elections in 1859, he was again returned as one of the three members for the county of Cumberland. In the following year, on a vote ad verse to the administration being carried by the opposition, he retired from office, but continued to reside at Halifax, where since 1857, he had practiced his profession.

Prior to the general elections in 1863, a feeling generally hostile to the liberal government had arisen, which gave the conservatives their own way at the polls; Mr. Tupper and two other gentlemen of his party being returned by acclamation for Cumberland. On the meeting of Parliament, the liberal administration were defeated and resigned. They were succeeded by their opponents under the lead of Mr. Attorney General Johnston, with Mr. Tupper, in succession to Mr. Howe, as Provincial Secretary. On the elevation of Mr. Johnston to the bench, Mr. Tupper became the leader of the government.

In 1858, Mr. Tupper had been chosen by his colleagues to go to England, and there in concert with representatives from New Brunswick to advance to the best of his ability the project of the Intercolonial Railway. Such a mission to any man was likely to be attended with a great increase of knowledge. The opportunity of seeing government conducted on a grand scale, of listening to parliamentary debates that were neither dwarfed by littleness nor stained with personalities, represented no inconsiderable advantages to one who had gained respect as a debater and was seeking to qualify as a statesman; for such lessons being fairly acquired and temperately applied, re-act with advantage on all, especially on assemblies which take the House of Commons for their model.

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Apart from such contingent benefits, it is probable that his reflections on the advantages of a commercial union among the British provinces in North America, by means of a railway, may have pre-disposed him to consider the greater advantages which might be expected to flow from a political union of those provinces. Whether he did so or not we cannot know certainly, but the ripeness of his convictions and the conclusiveness of his view, when the question was discussed at Quebec, five years afterwards, gave rise to the belief that the subject in all its bearings had engaged his serious thoughts as a patriot, and his anxious study as a statesman.

The question of the political confederation of British America, so far as the Maritime Provinces were concerned, was not considered ripe for discussion. Some mis-conception had arisen between the Sandfield Macdonald-Sicotte administration, and the administrations of those Provinces, with respect to the previous question of a commercial union by means of an Intercolonial Railway, which created uncertainty and gave rise to doubt. Hence the immediate consequence of such mis-conception appeared to be the indefinite postponement of both questions. In the meanwhile opinions favorable to a legislative union of the Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, had so strongly impressed the minds of their inhabitants, as to induce their respective Legislatures to agree to uniform resolutions as a basis for the proceedings which were to follow. The Nova Scotia resolution, which was introduced by Mr. Tupper and carried unanimously, runs thus:

Resolved—“That his Excellency the Lieutenant Governor be authorized to appoint delegates, (not to exceed five) to confer with delegates who may be appointed by the goverments of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, for the purpose of discussing the expediency of a union of the three provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, under one goverment and legislature. The report of the said delegates to be laid before the legislature of this colony before any further action shall be taken in regard to the proposed question.”

In pursuance of the powers conferred by the foregoing resolution, five delegates from each province met at Charlottetown, Prince[Pg 39] Edward Island, on the first of September, 1864. They had scarcely assembled, when new guests bearing a portfolio of new propositions unexpectedly arrived, in the persons of seven of the twelve members of the Canadian administration, who being duly accredited, sought and obtained leave to submit a plan for a general union of all the provinces of British North America. The enlarged project being more attractive, as well as more statesmanlike, displaced the smaller one, in the estimation of all who were required to form a judgment on its merits. The fifteen delegates at once determined that the Charlottetown conference should be adjourned sine die. Mr. Tupper had on several occasions, as his speeches very clearly shew, previously well considered and made his mind familiar with the question in all its bearings. The new project was not new to his thoughts. It was no surprise picture, no poetic day dream, no fond conceit of a flighty imagination. On the contrary, it was based on diligent research, and confined within exact calculations. Moreover, it was fortified by the needs of the times, the admonitions of duty and the promptings of affection. Honor and self interest, patriotic pride and loyal passion all combined to teach, though in different ways, one great lesson and one great truth. There was policy in union; there was strength in union, there was safety in union. Commercial intercourse could only be carried on with satisfaction when not crossed by conflicting laws. Military operations could only be directed with effect, when not paralyzed by opposing commands. Celerity of movement and unity of plan, the prime conditions of security, could only be obtained through a goverment directed from one centre and common to all the provinces. Such objects, and many beside of the like importance, could be secured by dismissing the Charlottetown project for creating a small maritime province, and substituting for it the Canadian one of a great northern nation. What could be done ought to be done, and therefore, Mr. Tupper is reported at the dinner in Charlottetown among other things to have said,

[Pg 40]

“He felt assured that all would indorse the sentiment, that it was our duty and interest to cement the colonies together by every tie that can add to their greatness. A union of the North American Provinces would elevate their position, consolidate their influence, and advance their interests; and at the same time continue their fealty to their mother country and their Queen, which fealty is the glory of us all. The British American statesman who does not feel it his duty to do all in his power to unite, politically, socially, and commercially, the British Provinces, is unworthy of his position, and is unequal for the task committed to him.”

What followed is matter of recent history, and need not be dwelt upon in this place. It must suffice to state, that after leaving Prince Edward Island, and visiting Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the Charlottetown party with others, representing in all thirty-three delegates, met at Quebec on the 10th October, 1864, and having continued their labors until the 27th of the same month, they unanimously agreed to, and individually signed, the seventy-two resolutions of the famous Quebec conference.

Before the resolutions could be embodied in an act of the Imperial Parliament, it was necessary that they should be confirmed by the Legislatures of the provinces proposed to be united. In carrying out the last mentioned condition, a by no means unimportant question arose, which was pressed with considerable ingenuity and great apparent fairness by those who were either opposed to the principle of confederation or to the persons who had assumed the duty of bringing it about. While admitting the unlimited power of Parliament, it was observed by the objectors that such power did not, and could not, possibly include the power of self-destruction. Granting therefore, in the interests of the state, that such power was required to be exercised, it was at least decent and becoming that it should be exercised with solemnity and without semblance of surprise. But whatever merit attached to the view thus presented, and we are by no means disposed to underrate it, the objection as it related to Canada was, it must be confessed, only of a rhetorical kind. People of all parties had generally, and for a long time, made up their minds to an event which many desired and few regretted. [Pg 41]Consequently the large majority of voters were by no means anxious that the question should be embarrassed with any pretext, however plausible, which would postpone but could not alter the result. In New Brunswick the difficulty was avoided by a general election, but in Nova Scotia, as in Canada, the subject was dealt with by the Parliament then existent, and which had been elected in the ordinary course of law. For reasons with which we are unacquainted, the Honorable Joseph Howe created no small surprise to those who were familiar with his previous opinions, by sternly opposing the whole scheme. Now, whatever Mr. Howe undertakes to do he does with all his heart. Since he had determined to fight the question coûte que coûte, no one who knew him was surprised to see him vault into the ring, take an imposing attitude, turn up his sleeves, throw away his gloves, and deliver a succession of well meant blows, with all the literary strength of his trained right hand. Neither being weary nor the worse for his local exertion, no astonishment was expressed when he evinced his intention of “carrying the war into Africa.” To pack his portmanteau, to roll up his pens, ink and paper, to cross the Atlantic, were, we incline to think, but trifling impediments under the circumstances. For the object of his intrepid mission was nothing less than to call “a halt” in the House of Commons itself, and ask the Imperial Parliament to “stop the way,” and by the intervention of mature wisdom to stay the career of what he suggested was immature folly. Thus it chanced that when Mr. Tupper, as a member of the board of delegates in London, was endeavoring to facilitate what Mr. Howe was endeavoring to impede, the necessity was laid on the former, of answering Mr. Howe’s feverish and ill-advised presentment. The task was not difficult for Mr. Tupper, since Mr. Howe, in his published letters and speeches, had by anticipation answered himself. Hence Mr. Tupper’s pamphlet, as it related to the matter in dispute, was a cleverly put case of Howe vs. Howe, wherein the public was left to decide whether it most liked the new or the old views, the later or the[Pg 42] earlier arguments of the eloquent objector. It must of course be conceded, that public men, like other men, are not to be absolutely and immovably bound by a given set of opinions. Yet when such men think fit to change those opinions, their apology for doing so becomes a challenge, which every one has the right to scrutinize with suspicion and weigh with exactness. Mr. Tupper with Shakespearian art presented the two pictures, apparently quite content as to which would receive honor from the judges and on which the choice of the nation would fall. Mr. Howe could scarcely hope, all things considered, to win for his new and menacing views, the approving judgment of the English people. The policy of the times, the inclination of opinion, and the weight of his better arguments lay so heavily in the opposite scale, that even his “winged words” could scarcely be expected to produce a change. Thus by means of Mr. Howe’s reasons Mr. Tupper answered Mr. Howe’s rhetoric, and, as the reviewers thought, with a fair approach to success.

We have not the space, even were our information perfect, to enumerate the measures with which Mr. Tupper’s name is particularly associated. They must be sought for, where they will most readily be found, in the minutes of council in the journals of parliament, and in the laws of the province. The part he has taken in the great work of confederation is known and appreciated within and beyond the five provinces of British America. He never wavered or halted in his work. Neither opposition nor discouragement caused him to lose hope, for the faith that animated him at first was conspicuous to the end of his important labors. Nor were his services unrecognized in the highest quarter, for on the birth-day of the Dominion, he was by the Queen’s command, created a Companion of the most honorable order of the Bath—and his name was thus placed on the roll of worthies who had received honor for service.

[Pg 43]



Mr. Joseph Quesnel, the father of the subject of this sketch, was a native of France, and emigrated to Canada after the conquest, where he obtained letters of naturalization, and continued to reside until the time of his death. He has been described as a gentleman of cheerful temperament and nice tastes, who was happy in promoting the happiness of other people. He is still remembered as the author of some dramas and drawing-room operas, which at the time were very popular with the French Canadian population. He departed this life at the age of fifty-nine years, leaving two sons and one daughter. The last mentioned married Mr. J. Coursol, an officer of the Hudson Bay Company, whose son the Judge of the Sessions of the Peace of Montreal, as we have elsewhere stated, was adopted by and became the heir of the younger of the above mentioned sons.

The elder son, the Honorable Jules Quesnel, who died in 1842, acquired some distinction in the political history of Lower Canada. The younger son, the Honorable Frederic Auguste Quesnel, the subject of this sketch, served the province in different capacities for nearly half a century, and with an accuracy of judgment that deserves much praise. He was, we believe, born at Montreal in February, 1785, educated at the seminary of the Sulpicians, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in the early part of the century.

[Pg 44]

At the elections in Lower Canada, consequent on the death of George the Third, in the year 1820, Mr. Quesnel was returned as a member for the then county of Kent, now better known as the county of Chambly. Though he was always loyal to what was called the national party, and though he generally cast his vote with Mr. Papineau, there is reason to believe that his confidence in the eloquent French Canadian leader was occasionally mingled with distrust. Such distrust gradually grew stronger until the time for expressing it arrived. In the Session which met on the 7th January, 1834, on the question for adopting the famous ninety-two resolutions, the House of Assembly took into consideration the state of the province. Mr. Papineau had by his candour involuntarily cleared the matter of some of its difficulties. Either from ingenuous motives or from unguarded ones he threw away his mask, if he wore any, and his monarchical principles, if he possessed them, and mingled with a good deal of dangerous invective, a grave discourse on the absorbing mission of democracy in America. Such sentiments from such a quarter prompted some who heard him to examine closely into the nature and tendency of the principles they had espoused; for a point had been reached from which there were diverging paths. Mr. Papineau made his choice, and took the course which was supposed to lead to the goal which his fancy had fashioned. He seized the metaphorical standard of the future, with its magical stars and emblematic stripes, and crossed the Rubicon, accompanied, strange to say, with apparent enthusiasm by the great body of his devoted followers. Such a result was a compliment to the quality of his rhetoric, rather than to the clearness of their reason, for very few, we incline to think, attempted to disentangle his eloquence from its illogical issues. They failed to perceive that absorption by the American republic, the avowed aim of Mr. Papineau’s later policy, involved the surrender, if not the annihilation of those points which as a national party they had banded themselves to secure. Thus,[Pg 45] for example, the American people are much scandalized if they would not treat special affections, such as “laws and institutions” as obstinate boulders to be blasted without compunction, and broken up after MacAdam’s fashion, and then blended promiscuously with the fragments of those numerous nationalities which represent the unity of the American nation. Mr. Quesnel was a genial, kindly, French gentleman of the old school, whose political desire was to remain British, and whose social one was to continue French. He probably saw that Mr. Papineau’s policy would have the effect of reversing both desires and of carrying him exactly where he did not wish to go. Other members of the party agreed with Mr. Quesnel. Consequently it happened that a few who had theretofore marched to Mr. Papineau’s music fell out of the ranks and refused to go further. They included in their number calm thoughtful men who were remarked for sagacity and caution. To this day their moderation is quoted with approval as worthy not only of imitation, but of gratitude. The small band embraced the honored names of Nielson, the Nestor of his party, Cuvillier, and Quesnel whose judgment was rarely at fault. They were men whose advice was always sought for with solicitude, for it was not only conspicuous for wisdom, but not unfrequently pointed with foreknowledge. Like the seers of the earlier times they were honest truthful men removed alike by their circumstances and their temperament, from the desire to indulge in specious opinions or to adopt passionate counsels. If they appraised the value of a proposition it was done with temper. If they examined its drift it was done with impartiality. Thus when the strange compound of personal complaint and political amelioration was presented for the acceptance of the House of Assembly in the shape of the memorable ninety-two resolutions, they turned away from the prescription as men might be expected to do who disliked the remedy, and had lost faith in the physician.

Mr. Quesnel’s convictions came too late to be of use to his[Pg 46] friends. Other counsels were more controlling than his, and hence he could scarcely impede, much less prevent, the violence which was to overtake his country. However, he acted up to what he felt to be the point of honor and of duty, and gave the Earl of Gosford what assistance he could as a member of the Executive Council. The troubles came, followed by the suspension of the constitution and the temporary retirement of the French Canadians from the theatre of affairs. In the first session after the union Mr. Quesnel represented the county of Montmorency in the Legislative Assembly. On the 8th of September, 1848, he was called to the Legislative Council, of which body he continued to be a member till his death on the 28th of July, 1866. Besides being a Legislative Councillor, he was a Lieutenant-Colonel of Militia, and he also filled several important offices in the city of Montreal. He was for many years President of the People’s Bank, and President of the St. Jean Baptiste Society of that city. In all situations, and in every relation of life, he fully sustained the reputation he had acquired, and which the Honorable John Ross very feelingly expressed in the Legislative Council, when he referred to his character and expressed regret at his loss. In the debates of the Legislative Council, as published in the Globe, Mr. Ross is reported to have said—

Hon. Mr. Ross wished to bear testimony, as an Upper Canadian, to the worth of their departed brother, Mr. Quesnel. He, Mr. Ross, had taken a seat in the Legislative Council in the same session with their departed brother and friend. In addition to his great ability, Mr. Quesnel was remarkable also for a sound judgment, which was almost unerring. During the years when he was able to devote himself to the business of the session, notwithstanding the conflict of parties and the violence of partizan feeling, Mr. Quesnel always commanded the attention and respect of the House, because his words were those of wisdom and prudence; and honorable members without distinction of party, were always rejoiced when he addressed them, because he managed to pour oil upon the troubled waters, and were glad to accept the views he propounded upon every subject which engaged his attention. He (Mr. Ross) regretted him, not only as a valued friend, but also as a man whose loss they must all deplore, because of the great ability, wisdom, and prudence, which characterized all his utterances in the Legislative Council.

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Tories don’t like me, Whigs detest;
Then in what quarter can I rest?
Among the Liberals? most of all
The Liberals are illiberal.

His Excellency the Honorable Francis Hincks, C. B., is the fifth and youngest son of the Reverend Dr. Hincks of Belfast, for many years Professor of Oriental languages in the Royal Institution of that town. Of his four brothers, three survive: The eldest[1] is the Rev. Edward Hincks, D.D., formerly Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, and now Rector of Kellyleagh, and is especially known to antiquarians as the author of several valuable papers in the transactions of the Royal Irish Academy on subjects connected with Egyptian, Persian and Assyrian archæology. The second brother is the Reverend William Hincks, who, on its foundation, was appointed Professor of Natural History in Queen’s college, Cork, and is now filling the like situation at the University of Toronto. The third is the venerable Thomas Hincks, Archdeacon of Connor. The family, as we learn from Burke’s History of the Landed Gentry, is of English extraction, for it was for some time settled in Cheshire.

Francis, the youngest son and the subject of this sketch, received his earlier education at Fermoy school. Afterwards he[Pg 48] was sent to the Royal Belfast Institution, where he remained only a short time. We do not know what plan of life had been formed for him. It is, however, probable, that the field of letters in which his father had found, and his brothers were seeking, distinction, was conjecturally, at least, set apart as the sphere wherein his own talents would most naturally be displayed. If such were the thoughts of those who at that time were expected to think for him, they were not his thoughts. His acute intellect and resolute will appear neither to have been solaced by the discipline, nor satisfied with the rewards of scholarship. At the end of six months he left college, having previously expressed a wish to follow the pursuits of commerce. We are not aware of the kind of trade to which he devoted himself, but in 1830 he was charged by his employers in furtherance of their business to go to the West Indies, and especially to note the attractions which Jamaica, Barbadoes, Trinidad, and Demerara, offered to the trader. At the second of the above named islands he met a gentleman, a resident of Canada, who persuaded him to visit Toronto and Montreal, and observe the commercial capabilities of those cities and of the Provinces in which they were situated. It is probable that the two voyages to the Lesser Antilles, separated though they were by an interval of twenty four years, have often been contrasted, for such contrasts are well calculated to excite reflection. On the first occasion he landed at Barbadoes unknown and unwelcomed, the salaried servant of a trading firm. On the second occasion he landed at the same island to the music of artillery, and the pageant of military display. On the first occasion he was passed without notice; on the second, curious and eager crowds welcomed him with such words of homage as a loyal people is accustomed to pay to the representative of their Queen. At his first visit he left the island dissatisfied, if not disappointed, because there was no reason in commerce why he should stay. At his second visit he left the island with complacency, if not with delight, because there was a reason in[Pg 49] duty why he should go, for Her Majesty had graciously promoted him to higher honors and a more responsible government. Who the Canadian gentleman was who advised him to “look at Toronto and Montreal,” we are not informed. He seems, possibly without knowing it, to have possessed the gift of “gramarye,” for very magical and romantic issues lodged in the lap of his casual advice. Mr. Hincks did then as he continued to do throughout life. He listened to his friend’s advice, and acted on his own judgment. He saw Canada as a tourist and liked the country. He stayed at Toronto as a visitor and determined to live there as a citizen.

In 1831 he returned to Belfast a wiser man than he left it the previous year. His plan of life had already been determined on, and we must add with tolerable completeness. He resolved to emigrate, and by way of rounding his resolution, and making it complete, he also resolved to marry. The latter was the picturesque prologue to the serious act of settlement, albeit the transaction included the actual duty of taking a house and the possible one of furnishing a nursery. Such considerations did not in his case—happily they do not generally in the case of youth—assume intimidating shapes. On the contrary, they possess the fortunate knack of veiling themselves in the robes of fascination which poets say hope borrows from love. But whatever appearance they may then have worn it was sufficiently assuring to satisfy the contracting parties: for in the following year the subject of our sketch perfected his preliminary plan of adventure by marrying the second daughter of Mr. Alexander Stewart, a merchant of Belfast. Soon afterwards he sailed with his wife to America. On arriving at New York he proceeded to Toronto, where he became the tenant and neighbor of Dr. Baldwin, an Irish gentleman who had formerly resided at Cork. Thus it chanced that he at once found himself included in a circle who were attracted by the virtues of the Doctor and who sympathized with the opinions of his patriotic son, the[Pg 50] Honorable Robert Baldwin. Not indeed that there is reason to think that Mr. Hincks’ sentiments on public affairs were wanting in tone or deficient in color, for both were, we believe, determinately tinged with the liberalism of the age. The political and social state of the times in Europe as well as in the United Kingdom; the prevalence of misery and destitution; of failure and disappointment; of every form of agricultural distress, and every phase of commercial embarrassment; exerted either a wholesome or a dangerous influence on the minds of all who had hearts to feel or heads to think. Principles theretofore supposed to be plain in their beneficial effects, became of doubtful repute, and men began to look for succor if not for blessing in things theretofore deemed evil. The past seemed to teach no certain lessons. Those of the present were too contradictory to be read aright, and hence it became a fashion with youth to turn from guides whose wisdom had been discredited by events, to other teachers, who at least promised better fruit for their labor. It is probable that Mr. Hincks had already begun to study the doctrines of that school of political economy, whose graduates were multiplying with noteworthy rapidity. It is also probable that he caught the spirit of their philosophy, who saw all things new. At all events he was not unprepared to apply it when the occasion offered. In the meanwhile he found himself, with a mind ill at ease with things as they were and disposed to sympathize with the advanced politics of the future, brought face to face with, and commanded to venerate the quaint old politics of the past, as they were swaddled and coddled by the charming old loyalist of Canada; the “true blue” politicians of other days, who declined to remember, much less to apply any other principles of government than those which were fashionable when George the Third was king, and the younger Pitt his trusted minister.

But the storms which had shaken thrones and shattered goverments in Europe, had in a mild way muttered mischief to the venerated idols of Canada. The influence of the party gained strength[Pg 51] which desired to obtain the constitutional changes that have since been brought about. As in the United Kingdom history was acquiring a new form by contact with new agencies, so in Canada the government was about to gain popularity by recruiting its forces from classes theretofore deemed ineligible, if not untrustworthy. In both countries the result was to be defeated or advanced by struggle and by endurance. Mr. Hincks did not require to choose his side, for his choice was already made and his place taken in the ranks of that reform party of which he was destined at a day not very remote to become the acknowledged leader.

There can be little doubt that the knowledge which Mr. Hincks subsequently displayed in matters of finance was noticed at an early period by those who had the capacity to appreciate the bent of his mind. Thus in 1833 when a Parliamentary investigation was ordered on the accounts of the Welland Canal, Mr. Hincks, who had but recently arrived in the country, was appointed one of the examiners. Shortly afterwards, on the formation of the Mutual Insurance Company at Toronto, he was selected as the secretary; and again when the Peoples Bank was incorporated, he was chosen as the cashier or chief manager of the institution.

While he was thus employed by interested stockholders in directing the business of joint stock companies, the public affairs of Upper Canada were attracting an unusual amount of attention in England and elsewhere. Mr. Baldwin with wise persistence was photographing the public mind with one picture, but that picture represented in a condensed form the shadow of things to come. Like the alarm note of a cuckoo clock he suffered himself to articulate but two words, but those words included meanings of the most comprehensive kind, meanings which were learned with reluctance and applied with dismay. They were “responsible government.” Mr. Mackenzie, on the other hand, unlike the “needy knife grinder” had a story to tell, and he indulged the story teller’s privilege of mingling a good deal of imagination with his facts. Without[Pg 52] dwelling on or undervaluing his report on grievances, we may observe that Sir Francis Head was afraid of “responsible government,” and looked awry when it was explained to him. At that time it was a subject hard for a King’s representative to understand and difficult for him to apply; and, moreover, having become infected with the suspicions of others that danger to the state lurked in the application, Sir Francis fell upon a bold course of action, and dismissed the matter and his ministry at the same time. Mr. Baldwin was not unfamiliar with the discipline of disappointment. He and those who thought with him, had patience to wait as well as industry to work. But in the meanwhile a crop of perilous opinions sprang up, whose fruit matured with pestilent rapidity. The revolutionary party broke away from the reform party, and forthwith exemplified their insanity by substituting physical for moral force. The party of impatience chose their weapons, and they were contemptuously routed by the weapons they had chosen. Although their failure was fortunate for them and for the province, the effort was followed by a result which was not unnatural. Reform, as a phrase, was discredited, and reformers, as a class, were put under the ban. The reform press in some cases had become revolutionary, and was suppressed, and in other cases it ceased to shed light and was snuffed out. In Toronto the party spoke in whispers and met by stealth, and acted as the members of a family may be excused for acting who have been disgraced by a relative. With the loss of voice, they lost heart, for no accredited journal was then found to do battle for their fallen and dishonored cause. Mr. Fothergill, at one time King’s printer, started The Palladium, but it was short-lived. Moreover it did not pretend to speak for the reform party. It was looked upon as the organ of the British as opposed to the “native” portion of the community, and it was chiefly supported by the class who considered that they had been used by the government in its need, but not trusted by the government after its recovery. It was at this dismal juncture that Mr.[Pg 53] Hincks saw his opportunity. He abandoned his other occupations, and by establishing the Toronto Examiner newspaper gave to reformers the organ they required, and imposed on himself the work he enjoyed, of editor and director of a political journal. Many will remember the vigor, the zeal and the address with which he carried on his new duties. The moment too was auspicious, for he was in a position, when the time arrived, to give his support to the administration of the Earl of Durham as well as to that of his acute successor Baron Sydenham. Having qualified himself in the columns of the reform press it was natural that he should be asked to do service in Parliament. The reformers of Oxford invited him to stand for the county, and he thus acquired his first experience of a closely contested election, for he was returned by a majority of thirty-one votes only over Mr. Carroll, his opponent. In the session which immediately followed he found himself seriously embarrassed, not only by Mr. Baldwin’s sudden withdrawal from the administration of which he had been a member since the union of the Provinces, but by his alliance with gentlemen who were conspicuous for their hostility to such union and to the act on which it was founded. It followed that during the first session of the Parliament of Canada, the two friends, Mr. Hincks and Mr. Baldwin, were uncomfortably separated, for they voted on opposite sides.

Lord Sydenham, as we learn in his memoirs, was inconvenienced by his inability to find any one in Canada who thoroughly understood, and was willing to advocate, his measures on finance and banking. Notwithstanding such complaint, it was generally supposed that on such subjects Mr. Hincks enjoyed the greatest share of his confidence. In the meanwhile, the office of Inspector General, or Minister of Finance, was so to speak, put into commission; the commissioners being the Hon. John Macaulay, and Mr. Joseph Cary, the respective Inspectors General for the former provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. In the following year, viz: on the 9th June, 1842, the two offices were united, and Mr. Hincks accepted the[Pg 54] situation of Inspector General for the whole Province. In so doing he then, or shortly afterwards, became the colleague of Messrs. Ogden, Draper, Day and Sherwood, as well as of Messrs. Sullivan, Harrison, Dunn, Daly, and Killaly. At the close of the session, Mr. Day was placed on the bench, and on the 16th of September, 1842, Messrs. Ogden, Draper, and Henry Sherwood retired, and were succeeded by Messrs. Baldwin and Lafontaine. Mr. Hincks retained his place in the administration, and from thenceforward shared the counsels and fortunes of Mr. Baldwin, and gave that gentleman his unwavering support and assistance, until his final withdrawal from public life. On the 28th November, 1843, he concurred with his colleagues in resisting Lord Metcalfe’s interpretation of responsible government, and retired from office with them. At the elections, in the following year, he shared the defeat of his party in Upper Canada, and lost his seat in Parliament. If the loss was acutely felt, he met it manfully, and addressed himself with his usual vigor to the duties which the occasion required. The British party in Lower Canada generally concurred in supporting Lord Metcalfe in the issue raised between him and his late advisers. The newspapers published in the English language for the most part enforced the views of the party. It was therefore deemed desirable that a new organ in the interests of the reform party should be started in that Province, and published at Montreal. The duty was naturally assigned to Mr. Hincks, and as a consequence “The Pilot” newspaper was commenced.

Mr. Kaye, in his life of Lord Metcalfe, and probably re-iterating the expressed opinions of that nobleman, describes Mr. Hincks as “in many respects a remarkable man,” who by the ability with which he had conducted the Toronto Examiner, “had rendered it a formidable political organ.” “Even the most strenuous of his opponents admitted his fitness for the office” which Sir Charles Bagot had conferred on him; “for he was an excellent accountant and financier.” It was represented to Lord Metcalfe,[Pg 55] “that he was by far the best man of business in the Council—clear-headed, methodical, persevering, and industrious.” “But” the biographer continues, “as a partisan, he was vehement and unscrupulous; with a tongue that cut like a sword, and no discretion to keep it in order.” Without assenting to the accuracy of the outline, it is worthy of a place in this paper as the sketch of one who had been accustomed to observe and form opinions of men. Such, then, was the individual who, in the estimation of a keen critic, had undertaken the task of creating a British reform party in Lower Canada, and of editing a newspaper that should be equal to the duty. The “clear head” and the “sharp tongue” were no mean auxiliaries in carrying on the new work. Happily for Mr. Hincks they did not stand alone. The “clear head” looked out of eyes of restless brightness, whose powers of perception appeared to be equal to all emergencies. Moreover the “clear head” and restless eyes were nourished by a temperament of feverish activity. It seemed that no toil could exhaust his frame and no discouragement could overcome his perseverance. Discretion was, we venture to think, one of the hard lessons he was required to learn, and though he may have addressed himself to the duty with knitted brow and compressed lips, it was not easy for that seething brain to be cool. It was hard work for that “sharp tongue” to calm enmity with a soft word, when it could crush it with a rough one. The unruly member would not always consent to repose in a lap of velvet, or sheathe its point in satin. Forbearance was a penance as well as a difficulty. It was more natural for him to rasp his antagonist into shape with stern discourse, than to reduce him with soothing emollients. Some may conjecture, but few can know, the amount of restraint he disciplined himself to practice or the degree of self control which accompanied his labor. If ability is to be estimated by success, a fitting illustration will be found in the triumph of his party at the elections in 1848, when the reform side won by large majorities in both Provinces.

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Mr. Hincks was again elected for Oxford over his old opponent, but some exception being taken by a voter to his qualification, the Returning Officer, being perplexed, acted on the advice of the Solicitor General, and returned Mr. Carroll as the sitting member. Of course Mr. Hincks could not forgive the Returning Officer for his doubt any more than he could excuse the Solicitor General for his decision. He was in the position of one who felt himself to be defrauded by a technicality, or cheated by a stratagem, since he possessed but did not enjoy a right to which most persons considered him entitled in virtue of his majority of three hundred and thirty-five votes. Parliament lost no time in correcting the opinion of the Solicitor General, for the Returning Officer was ordered to attend at the Bar and amend his return. Nor was that all. As Mr. Hincks could not reach the author of erroneous advice, he determined to punish the agent. Being moved by a sense of wrong, and blinded by temporary passion, he gave the rein to his “sharp tongue” and pursued the Returning Officer with resolutions which were as contrary to his usual generous character as they were conspicuous for their lack of wisdom. Indeed the proceedings were unquestionably harsh, and they brought about a result the reverse of what was desired. Without inquiring whether the Returning Officer, Mr. Vansittart, had done right or wrong, people generally concurred in thinking that by resorting to the best advice he could obtain, he had not only shown a disposition to do right, but he had divested himself of responsibility should it turn out that he had done wrong. Hence the moral effect of the censure of Parliament was not only neutralized, but it was capped with a compliment to the Returning Officer in the shape of an address of sympathy and a presentation of plate. Moreover, the proceedings helped to increase Mr. Vansittart’s popularity in his county, and probably did much to strengthen the opposition he was enabled to make at the next election, when he contested that county against Mr. Hincks with such a close approach to success, as to make the friends of the latter very anxious indeed for the result.

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On the formation of the Lafontaine-Baldwin administration, on the 10th March, 1848, Mr. Hincks was re-appointed to the office he had formerly filled, of head of the finance department. Though he succeeded to an empty exchequer, and a very uncomfortable prospect in the matter of ways and means, he nevertheless, by the boldness as well as the simplicity of his tariff legislation, at once restored the public credit, and avoided all resort to the peculiar system of financial re-adjustment which had discredited the projects of his predecessor and rendered them unpopular. From thenceforward Mr. Hincks took an honorable view of the public service, and a generous one of the public servants. Few Executive Councillors have attained greater popularity than he, and very few, if any, have been more loyally served. He looked upon government as a science, and the public service as a profession, and his effort was directed towards the intellectual and social elevation of all who diligently sought to serve the state.

By the retirement of Messrs. Baldwin and Lafontaine, on the 27th October, 1851, Mr. Hincks became the leader of the Upper Canada section of the cabinet. The period was important, as inaugurating those great projects of improvement on which the Province was about to enter, involving the expenditure of large sums of money, and the consequent negotiation of extensive loans. Foremost among those public works was the construction of a grand trunk line of railway from Quebec to Lake Huron. Furthermore, an agreement was made by the Provinces of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, under certain separate, as well as under certain joint conditions, to construct, with the assistance of the Imperial Government, a railway from Halifax to Quebec, and thus connect the Maritime Provinces with the Canadian trunk line of railway. We have not space to enter into exact particulars. It must suffice to state that the line selected by Major Robinson of the Royal Engineers, and recommended to the British Government on account of its military advantages, was not the line considered to be best[Pg 58] adapted to the commercial wants of the people of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Thus the interests of the mother country and the colonies appeared to diverge and fall asunder. For while the colonists were naturally disinclined to pledge their revenue to build a road which would be of little use in a commercial point of view, the British Government was equally disinclined to extend their guarantee to a road pronounced to be worthless in a military point of view. The interests of commerce and war were at issue, and the negotiators found themselves playing at cross purposes and working very uselessly in separate circles. It were idle at this day to revive a discussion on which the public men of Canada were much divided at the time, whether greater consideration on one side, and less petulance on the other, would not have resulted more beneficially to the Provinces. It is only necessary to say that the Canadian negotiator was weary of procrastination, and impatient of further delay. Moreover, the discipline which had restrained his temper had given the rein to his tongue, and with the human mercury at fever heat, he wrote a highly characteristic letter on the first of May 1852 to Sir John Pakington, from which we make some pointed extracts. It is probable that such a letter had not been addressed by a colonist to a Secretary of State since Franklin left England for America, on the eve of the revolutionary war. After some deprecatory remarkes on the impediments which had been offered by Her Majesty’s Government to the progress of the negotiation, Mr. Hincks proceeds:

Observing by the report in the “Times,” of this morning, of a conversation which took place last evening in the House of Commons, that it is not the intention of Her Majesty’s Government to come to any final decision without communicating information to the House, and apprehending that much delay may yet be contemplated; I feel that it is my duty, on the part of the province whose interests are entrusted to my care, to explain frankly, but most respectfully to her Majesty’s Government, that it will be quite impossible for Canada to continue any longer a negotiation which has already involved her in much expense and trouble, and which has naturally retarded other arrangements which can be made for securing the construction of the most important sections of a great[Pg 59] Canadian trunk line of Railway. I am anxious that Her Majesty’s Government should understand most distinctly, that I have not been sent to England as an humble suitor on the part of Canada for Imperial aid. Canada was invited by the Imperial Government to aid in the great national work under consideration, and I must be permitted to say, that she has generously and patriotically responded to the invitation. Much time has unfortunately been lost, though not from any fault on the part of the Government or Legislature of Canada; and I therefore trust, that my present formal appeal to Her Majesty’s Government will not be attributed to impatience, but to an anxious desire to promote the interests of my country. It seems to me far from improbable that, on some ground or other, this negotiation will prove a failure. If so, it is of the very highest importance to Canada that the fact should be known as soon as possible. I have reason to believe that I can effect arrangements on the spot with eminent capitalists, to construct all the railroads necessary for Canada with our own unaided credit. I have likewise reason to know that the European line, from Halifax to the frontier of Maine, can be constructed by the unaided credit of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. We cannot afford to lose the opportunity of effecting such an important object to us, which will afford communication between Halifax and the western frontier of Canada. I am convinced that Her Majesty’s Government, if unable to meet our wishes by granting us the aid spontaneously offered by the late Government, would regret extremely that we should lose the opportunity of effecting other desirable arrangements, and that they will not deem me importunate or unreasonable in respectfully begging for an answer, after being delayed nearly seven weeks in England. I must leave this country by the steamer of the 22nd instant, and I cannot possibly effect the arrangements which must be carried out, whether the negotiation of Her Majesty’s Goverment succeeds or fails, in less than a week. I therefore most respectfully request of you, sir, that you may give me a final answer by the 15th instant; and I must add, that if Her Majesty’s Government are unable, either from want of time or from the necessity of consulting Parliament to come to a decision by that period, I must beg it to be understood that Canada withdraws from the present negotiation, and that I shall deem it my duty to enter into arrangements, which if confirmed, as I believe they will be, by the Government and Legislature, will put it out of the power of the province to negotiate on the present basis.... I cannot conclude this letter without expressing my deep regret that so little confidence has been manifested by Her Majesty’s Goverment, in Mr. Chandler and myself, being, as we are, sworn confidential advisers of the Crown.... Communications have been made to the Colonial Office on the subject of this railway, hostile to the views of the Goverment and Legislature of the three provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, supported as those views are by the Queen’s able representatives in those provinces. No communication of those papers, the existence of which I only know by current rumour, has been made to us. Our position has been in no way recognized by Her Majesty’s Government; and I cannot but express my conviction, that such withholding of confidence has not conduced to the interests of the Queen’s service.

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Without dwelling on the disappointment which the failure of the negotiation occasioned to many, we may observe that people not prone to despondency were soothed and comforted by the piquant qualities of the letter. Public men irrespective of party, agreed in opinion that Mr. Hincks had clearly expressed what many of his predecessors had acutely felt, namely: that a colonist, no matter what his position or credentials, was received without honor or distinction in the mother country. It is not improbable that the letter in question may have done much towards mitigating an acknowledged evil. At all events it informed the Queen’s advisers in no equivocal terms of the new status which “responsible government” had conferred on Provincial Privy Councillors, and of the greater consideration which was on that account due to their position and character when accredited to represent their governments.

Had the task not been embarrassed with a misunderstanding there would have remained difficulty enough to daunt the boldest. Nature had provided a streamway through Canada from the great lakes to the greater ocean. Art was now called upon to construct a railway as continuous as the streamway, and which in like manner should stop only at the Atlantic. Nature had chosen her own channel unembarrassed by the whim or the waywardness of man. Science, on the contrary, was not only impeded by the difficulties of nature, but it was beset by human selfishness and embarrassed by local prejudice. It is therefore probable, that the sarcasm pointed by Burke at the Earl of Buckinghamshire, might have been applied with equal force to some persons in Canada. It was said, and unfortunately not without reason, that the Grand Trunk Railway was impeded in its construction, increased in its cost, and lessened in its benefits by the necessity which arose for selling public interests by private contract. Such transactions must be sufficiently humiliating to high minded men; yet it is idle to be unduly disquieted by them; for like the incidents of other great victories we know they must be. The advantages of a public improvement[Pg 61] must we fear be determined by the end it is designed to serve rather than by the means by which the end is reached. Too much knowledge is not desirable, for the mind is harrassed by the operation of weighing a material gain against a moral loss. Taken all in all the result may probably be expressed in the language of old Casper in Southey’s nursery epic, that “it was a famous victory.” A victory worthy of the conception and creditable to the perseverance of a statesman who had the courage to utilize to patriotic ends qualities that were base as well as qualities that were noble, and regardless alike of covert suspicion or open censure dared to fuse good with ill for the permanent advantage of Canada.

In the meanwhile interest which perhaps had not been conciliated, and opinions which had scarcely been respected, were acquiring strength sufficient to menace his authority and challenge his position. Mr. Hincks as a matter of duty had to take his bearings afresh, and by examining the political chart anew, discover whether and to what extent he had steered amiss. The duty involved a consideration of his relations to the parties which had opposed as well as to the party which had supported him. It may be conjectured that he did so very anxiously, for in the first instance, the grave issue of his scrutiny could scarcely have been apparent. It is not now difficult to see that a great change had taken place in the relative positions of parties. The line which separated the conservatives from the Baldwin reformers had almost ceased to be a real line, for it was so reduced in its proportions as to be little more than a slightly pencilled, almost imperceptible curve. Official responsibility had taught both parties moderation. The conservatives had on their side paved the way to an approximate, if not to an actual union with the old reformers. On the other hand the extreme liberals had separated themselves from the more moderate section of the reform party by new issues that were regarded by the majority in Lower Canada with aversion and by many in Upper Canada with distrust. Then, too, as a matter of convenience, political[Pg 62] names when they expressed party names, were qualified by political adjectives: thus, “liberal conservatives” and “conservative liberals” became familiar terms, and being familiar they were frequently interchanged, and applied indifferently to either party. It may therefore have chanced that the new forms of nomenclature smoothed the differences between “liberal conservatives” and “conservative liberals,” and perhaps increased the desire of both to get rid of such differences.

Moreover, the elections which had recently taken place had not weakened the conservative party, while in Upper Canada they had added materially to the strength of the extreme reform party. The latter from a sectional point saw at once that the position of the moderate reformers was no longer tenable. Plans were therefore made, it was said, though the statement is scarcely credible, with the acquiescence and participation of some of his colleagues, to get rid of Mr. Hincks and such of his friends as had become obnoxious for their moderation. Though the ground was skilfully mined, it was still more skilfully countermined by the opposing engineer. Mr. Hincks, with the quickness which always marked his actions, at once determined that the enemy should be “hoist by his own petard.” On his own, as well as on behalf of his attached friends, he would consent neither to political isolation nor to political death. He, and they, being cut adrift by their party, considered themselves free to take their own course and form their own alliances; and the result was in the highest degree creditable to their address. They surrendered no principle to the party with which they coalesced, and they obtained from it almost every concession they desired. Hence the transaction was not so much a coalition as it was a fusion of parties, and this fusion was affected not by the concession of the reformers, but by the capitulation of the conservatives, and their conversion to the principles of the party with which they became allied.

The period from 1848, when he re-entered the administration, to[Pg 63] 1855, when he left the province, represents but a short space of time, yet it is marked with acts of great importance, many of which were introduced by him, and all of which received his support. We have not space to epitomize the important measures on the tariff—on municipal reform, on local finance, on general assessment, on postal intercourse, on cheap postage, on benevolence, and the relief to English and French soldiers, which in their original and amended forms, have directly or indirectly been attributed to him. The journals of parliament, and the laws will supply the information, and at the same time make the enquirer acquainted with the industry, sagacity and courage which marked his career from first to last. Nor should it be overlooked that when he had retired and could only give the government an outside support, he nevertheless addressed himself with his accustomed vigor to the final settlement of two questions, which for upwards of thirty years had been fruitful in disquiet and contention, namely, the Clergy Reserve and Seignorial Tenure questions.

As a speaker, Mr. Hincks secured attention rather by the force of his convictions than by the strength of his arguments. Men felt what he said, not because they were convinced, but because they were charmed. Indeed it was more his habit to assert than to reason. Nor was it the least amusing feature of a debate, to note the temper in which he would silence an interruption, snub an impertinence, or answer an enquiry. Sometimes it was done in tones of surprise that ignorance so inconceivable should exist; sometimes in tones of scorn that a question so absurd should be asked; and sometimes in tones of commiseration at the unaccountable obtuseness of people not otherwise deficient in intelligence; but whatever its form, the interrogator was generally obliged to be satisfied with the emphatic re-assertion of a statement, for he was rarely answered with an explanation or a reason. Mr. Hincks spoke very much as he wrote, and the letter we have reproduced may be regarded as a specimen of his oratorical, as well as of his epistolary style.

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After the adjournment of Parliament in 1855, Mr. Hincks went home, and the news of his arrival in England was made public by a London Journal in the following words:

“We have great pleasure in announcing that the Queen, upon the recommendation of Sir William Molesworth, has appointed Mr. Hincks, a distinguished member of the Canadian Legislature, to the Governorship of Barbadoes. This appointment is not so simple a matter as it would appear at first sight. It is the inauguration of a totally different system of policy from that which has been hitherto pursued with regard to our Colonies. We only trust that it may be carried out to its legitimate extent, and that the more distinguished among our fellow subjects in the Colonies may feel that the path of Imperial ambition is henceforth open to them. They are not Canadians, nor Australians, nor mere denizens of Jamaica, or at the Cape, but Englishmen above all and before all, Englishmen who have the same legitimate right to hold the highest offices in church or state, at home or abroad, as any person born within the four seas.... We trust that this appointment of Mr. Hincks to Colonial Governorship, will shew that at home we are really in earnest in the matter, and ask no better than to call into the service of the country talent, home grown or colonial; in fact talent wherever it may be found.”

His Government of the Windward Islands was spoken of as wise and successful, and hence he was promoted from Barbadoes to British Guiana, where he now represents Her Majesty, and where his rule is said to be popular and sagacious. A tropical climate, and duties of no light kind, have, we believe, written their characters very legibly on his face and somewhat changed his appearance from what he was in the time of his Canadian service when our photograph was taken. It is, however, the familiar face of familiar days that we present to our readers, and it may on that account be more acceptable to all, and especially to those who remember him with kindness, and his services with appreciation.

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Resolved.—That in order to preserve between different branches of the Provincial Parliament that harmony which is essential to the peace, welfare, and good government of the Province,—the chief advisers of the Representative of the Sovereign, constituting a Provincial Administration under him, ought to be men possessed of the confidence of the representatives of the people, thus affording a guarantee that the well-understood wishes and interests of the people, which our Gracious Sovereign has declared shall be the rule of the Provincial Government, will, on all occasions, be faithfully represented and advocated.—Journals of the Legislative Assembly, 3rd September, 1841.

The foregoing resolution was adopted by the Legislative Assembly of Canada, on the 3rd September, 1841, in a House of eighty-four members, with only seven dissentient votes. In the recognition, by Parliament, of the principle enunciated in that resolution, Mr. Baldwin must have enjoyed a personal as well as a political triumph; for the public appropriation of his “one idea,” as it was then called by some, of his “great idea” as it is now designated by all, represented a conservative revolution in the government, not only of his own country, but of all the colonies of the British Crown. The resolution is justly regarded as the charter of Canadian freedom—the corner stone of her constitutional system. Nor was it a light matter that a work so fair should have been wrought by one whose patriotism was as conspicuous for its purity, as his character was for its truth. Canada may, it is true, read on the roll of her worthies, the names of more acute[Pg 66] lawyers, more eloquent debaters, more expert tacticians, and more accomplished statesmen, but she will scarcely find one to which she can point with greater pride; on which her historians will dwell with greater complacency; or which her people generally will cherish with more loving warmth than the honored name of Robert Baldwin.

When the subject of separating the old Province of Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada was under consideration, many of the inhabitants of the British Islands were attracted to the western Province. Thus in the year 1790, Mr. William Willcocks, the maternal grandfather of Mr. Baldwin, a gentleman of some consideration and property in the city of Cork, paid a visit of observation to Upper Canada. Being favorably impressed with the natural and social attractions of the country, he appears to have exerted the like influences on the minds of several of his friends and relatives. The number included Mr. Robert Baldwin, the grandfather of the subject of this article, who having disposed of his Irish homestead, arrived in 1798, with his family, in Canada, and settled on a farm in the Township of Clarke. He named his new possession Annarva, but whether the property now retains that name, we are unable to say. The stream, however, which flowed hard by, was then, and we believe is still, called Baldwin’s Creek. With the subsequent history of the two grandfathers we are not required to deal. But it is necessary to relate that their son, the Hon. William Warren Baldwin, more familiarly known as Dr. Baldwin, very soon turned his back on Annarva to seek his fortune at Toronto, the newly chosen capital of Upper Canada.

At that day there were scarcely any professional men in the country. Clergymen were myths, and lawyers and doctors were equally at a premium. Dr. Baldwin was a member of the medical profession, and a graduate of Edinburgh, but he rightly considered that the way to wealth and influence lay less in the tranquil paths of healing than in the stormy ones of strife; and if he did not actually,[Pg 67] like Macbeth, “throw physic to the dogs,” he, at all events, shut his medicine chest, and in virtue of an act of Parliament, supplemented with the Governor’s special license, he opened a law office. Moreover he studied the mysteries of his new profession with such rapidity, and practiced them with such success, that the name of “Dr. Baldwin, barrister and solicitor,” soon became a name of repute in the courts, and of influence in the country. He lost little time in qualifying for domestic life, for he married Phœbe, a daughter of Mr. William Wilcox, and, as we assume, a connection by marriage of his family. Of his marriage there were two sons, Robert and William, the latter of whom survives. Robert Baldwin was born on the 12th May, 1804, and educated at one of the best schools the country afforded. In due time he studied the profession his father had adopted, and was called to the bar in Trinity Term, 1825, when he entered into partnership with his father. The business name by which they were then known was “W. W. Baldwin & Son.” Subsequently, on the 1st March, 1829, Mr. Robert Baldwin formed a partnership with his cousin Mr. Robert Baldwin Sullivan, under the names of “Baldwin & Sullivan.” This arrangement continued until 1837, when Mr. Sullivan retired, and was, in due time, succeeded by Mr. Adam Wilson, who appears to have been professionally adopted by the principals, as the firm reverted to the old style of “Baldwin & Son.” On the 31st May, 1827, Mr. Robert Baldwin married his cousin, Augusta Elizabeth, a daughter of Mr. Daniel Sullivan, and sister of Mr. Robert Baldwin Sullivan, before mentioned, by whom he had two sons and two daughters, all of whom survived him. On the 11th January, 1836, he lost his wife by death. This great trial, followed as it shortly was, by his release from responsibility as an adviser of Sir Francis B. Head, prompted him to seek in other lands for the peace and rest which, for a time at least, eluded him in his native Province. He visited England and the Continent, where he had the advantage of witnessing, among other things, the amenities of statesmen, and of observing, what one fails to[Pg 68] see on this continent, government carried on as a science by men who, for the most part, have been educated to rule. Though not honored with an interview, he took the opportunity, which his presence in London offered, of placing before the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in a series of papers, his views on Colonial Government as it then was, and as it ought thereafter to be administered in Canada.

In referring to Mr. Baldwin’s political career, it may be as well to observe that his father, Dr. Baldwin, was at one time an officer of the two Houses of the Legislature, from the service of both of which he was removed for reasons as amusingly absurd as they were offensively arbitrary. A wronged man is sure to become a troublesome, and if he possesses ability, he is apt also to become a dangerous man. Legislative tyranny released Dr. Baldwin from official restraint, and promoted him to the character of an official martyr; and thus, from his position, his influence and his ability, he became a sympathetic centre for all who had complaints to prefer against the ruling party in Upper Canada. Moreover, the peace of Europe not only added to the distress which had weighed heavily on the inhabitants of the British Islands during the war, but it had the further effect of opening with determinate violence, the sluices through which the tide of suffering emigrants could be floated to America. A great number of such, including a large proportion whom want had soured, and misfortune had made miserable, arrived in Canada. Scotland and the manufacturing districts of northern England, especially contributed their quota of irrepressible radicals, men whose brains were as clear as their pockets were empty, to compete with the old royalists and their descendants for whatever was to be had in the way of employment, or to be scrambled for in the way of property. The fresh arrivals gave an extraordinary impetus to political discussion, and public opinion suddenly became active, and, as the old settlers thought, dangerous. The year 1820 is commonly regarded as the commencement of a new[Pg 69] era in the political history of the Province. The accession of the fourth George to the throne did not increase the respect which was felt for kings and persons in authority, and the new immigrants were not for the most part given to hero worship, and especially if the idol were no hero. Thus their old aversions, unlike their old clothes, were not worn out in the voyage to Canada; on the contrary, those aversions, whether they sprang from secular or religious roots, were strong enough to be turned to valuable account by all who desired to build up a party of resistance to the governing families of the Province. Dr. Baldwin was the chief of the “Adullamites” of that day, to whose metaphorical cave all were encouraged to flock, who had grievances to remember or wrongs to redress.

The general elections which took place in 1820, consequent on the death of George the Third, introduced some new blood in the House of Assembly, which especially shewed itself in the earnestness with which tender subjects were approached, and the warmth with which they were discussed. In 1827, the party of aggression acquired consideration, as well as strength, by the arrival from England of Mr. John Walpole Willis, who had received the appointment of Puisné Judge in Upper Canada, and who, it is stated, attracted the ill will of the dominant families by resolutely refusing to identify himself with the governing party. We have not space for particulars. It must suffice to say that in the year 1829, for causes which satisfied him, His Excellency Sir Peregrine Maitland, suspended Mr. Justice Willis from his judicial functions, and obliged him to seek redress in England. The reasons for such an extreme exercise of prerogative were deemed by the reform party so insufficient and objectionable as to warrant a remonstrance, in which the reader may see very distinctly the bold outlines of Mr. Baldwin’s colonial policy; neither will the student of English history be embarrassed in discovering whence that policy may be traced. We shall give the concluding paragraph of the address to Mr. Willis,[Pg 70] and add a few noteworthy extracts from the petition to the King, which was adopted at the same time. The former ends thus:—

“Seeing that you are abandoned by the provincial administration and their dependants, we have, in addition to those private arrangements which your limited knowledge of the country may enable you to provide, appointed for our public satisfaction, a committee to watch over the interests and insure the protection of Lady Mary and family, that Her Ladyship may, during your absence, the less feel the remoteness of her native country and of her noble friends. This committee consists of William Warren Baldwin, Esq. and lady, and John Galt, Esq. and lady, to whom is added Robert Baldwin, Esq., as her Ladyship’s solicitor.”

In their petition to the King, after humbly thanking His Majesty, for appointing the Hon. John Walpole Willis to the office of Judge, and testifying to his “private virtues, acknowledged learning, blended with high and uncompromising principles uniformly evinced in the impartial discharge of his judicial duties,” and after representing that the country had been “deprived of one of its greatest blessings in the arbitrary removal of a Judge who, by the impartial discharge of his duties, had become endeared to the Canadian people,” the petitioners further represent:

“It has long been the source of many grievances, and of their continuance, that the Legislative Council is formed not of an independent gentry, taken from the country at large, but of executive counsellors and place-men, the great majority of whom are under the immediate, active, and undue influence of the person administering your Majesty’s Provincial Government, holding their offices at his mere will and pleasure. Hence arises, in a great measure, the practical irresponsibility of executive counsellors, and other official advisers of your Majesty’s representative, who have hitherto, with impunity, both disregarded the laws of the land, and despised the opinions of the public.

“From the impunity with which the greatest abuses have hitherto existed, and the difficulty in such a state of things of applying an efficient remedy, most of our grievances have taken their origin and growth....

“The undue influence which the mingled duties of legislative and executive advice have on the judicial functions....

“The want of carrying into effect that rational and constitutional control over public functionaries, especially the advisers of your Majesty’s representative, which our fellow subjects in England enjoy in that happy country....

“That the supreme judges of the land hold their offices during pleasure, and are subjected to the ignominy of an arbitrary removal....

[Pg 71]

“That the Judges of the Court of King’s Bench be not Legislative Councillors, nor Executive Councillors, nor Privy Councillors, in any respect in the Colony.

“That the judges be made independent as in England, holding their offices not as at present in this province, but during good behavior, to be enquired into by impeachment alone, in the Provincial Parliament, before the Legislative Council, when that body is so modified as to become an independent branch of the Legislature.

“That a legislative act be made in the Provincial Parliament, to facilitate the mode in which the present constitutional responsibility of the advisers of the local government, may be carried practically into effect; not only by the removal of those advisers from office, when they lose the confidence of the people, but also by impeachment for the heavier offences chargeable against them.”

The paper from which we have made the foregoing extracts has been carefully filed and initialled by Mr. Baldwin. It shews even at that early day, how thoroughly he had consulted the history of the old American colonies, and with what clearness he foreshadowed the remedial measures which were necessary for his own Province.

At the general elections in 1838, Mr. Baldwin, in conjunction with Mr. J. E. Small, offered themselves as candidates to the electors of the county of York, but that appreciative constituency preferred their opponents Mr. Ketchum and Mr. William Lyon MacKenzie. In the following year, the then Attorney General, Sir John Beverly Robinson, was appointed Chief Justice; wherefore Mr. Baldwin, in succession to Sir John, presented himself to the electors of the town of York, as Toronto was then called. Although he was elected by a majority of votes over his opponent, he was unseated on Petition, the writ of election having been irregularly issued. On again offering himself he was returned in opposition to Mr. Sheriff Jarvis, but this triumph was of short duration, as he sat for a part of one session only. Before Parliament assembled, George the Fourth had departed this life. A general election took place, when Mr. Jarvis defeated Mr. Baldwin.

Though a young man, Mr. Baldwin appears to have been in a very marked way influenced by mature opinions. Thus his defeat at the age of twenty-six was scarcely a disappointment, for he had[Pg 72] become thoroughly convinced that his presence in Parliament could serve no good or useful purpose. Nor could it be denied that in the absence of ministerial responsibility, it was alike dispiriting and useless to wage warfare with a system which it was easy to derange, but difficult to get rid of.

In the month of January, 1836, Sir Francis Bond Head, described in the printed placards on the Toronto walls, as “a tried reformer,” arrived at Toronto in succession to Sir John Colborne, “a fossil Tory” who had desired his recall. Sir Francis appears to have lost no time in sending for and in advising with Mr. Baldwin on several obstinate and knotty matters connected with the administration of public affairs. Incidentally, by way of preliminary to a mutual understanding of the subject, a memorable discussion took place on the position which an English Governor fills in a colony, and the relation which his constitutional advisers hold with respect to him on one hand, and to Parliament on the other. The argument on both sides, as published in the official papers, is very interesting and very fairly put, but we shall merely confine ourselves to an extract from Mr. Baldwin’s summary of the proceeding, as related by him at the time, in a letter to Mr. Peter Perry.

“I therefore beg leave to state that His Excellency having done me the honor to send for me, explained the position in which he found himself placed on assuming the government of the Province, and declaring himself most anxious to do the best he could to ensure to the Province good and cheap government, expressed himself most desirous that I should afford him my assistance by joining his Executive Council, assuring me that in the event of my acceding to his proposals, I should enjoy his full and entire confidence. I informed His Excellency of my extreme reluctance again to embark in public life; and proceeded to state, notwithstanding such reluctance, and reserving to myself the option of declining to accept the seat which His Excellency had tendered to me, on private grounds merely, I yet felt that as His Excellency had done me the honor of sending for me, I would not be performing my duty to my Sovereign or the country, if I did not, with His Excellency’s permission, explain fully to His Excellency, my views of the constitution of the Province and the change necessary in the practical administration of it, particularly as I considered the delay in adopting this change as the great and[Pg 73] all absorbing grievance before which all others in my mind sank into insignificance; and the remedy for which would most effectually lead, and that in a constitutional way, to the redress of every other grievance, and the finally putting an end to all clamor about imaginary ones, and that these desirable objects would thus be accomplished without in the least entrenching upon the just and necessary prerogatives of the Crown, which I consider when administered by a Lieutenant Governor through the medium of a Provincial Ministry responsible to the Provincial Parliament, to be an essential part of the constitution of the Province.

“That these opinions were not hastily formed, but they were, on the contrary, those which I had imbibed from my father, who though for some years as well as myself unconnected with public life, had formerly held a much more distinguished position in the politics of the country, than I could pretend to, and that they were opinions which the experience of every year had more and more strengthened and confirmed.... That they were nothing more than the principles of the British Constitution applied to that of this Province, and which I conceive necessarily to belong as much to the one as to the other.

“That the call for an Elective Legislative Council which had been formally made from Lower Canada, and had been taken up and appeared likely to be responded to in this Province, was as distasteful to me as it could be to any one, as all that appeared necessary or desirable was the constitution as it stood, fully and fairly acted upon, and that I was convinced that had such a course been adopted some years ago, we should not now have the public discussing the expediency of an alteration in the constitution by the introduction of a provision for an Elective Legislative Council, that I feared it might now be too late, but as I was not sufficiently aware of the exact state of the question to speak decidedly, I sincerely hoped that by the prompt adoption of a responsible Provincial administration under the King’s representative, the question might even yet be set at rest.”

The remainder of the letter is taken up with a recital of the objections that were urged by Sir Francis, and how they were met by Mr. Baldwin. The negotiation ended in an agreement on the part of the latter to enter the administration on certain conditions being observed with respect to the gentlemen who should be associated with him. Those conditions, though somewhat modified by mutual concession, appear to have been satisfactory to both parties, as Mr. Baldwin undertook the responsibility of forming an administration.

After meeting his newly sworn-in Executive Councillors, and receiving from them, in a formal paper, a statement of what they proposed to accomplish, and the way in which it was to be done, including the uncomfortable results to the incumbents of certain[Pg 74] offices, which the new views would necessarily involve, Sir Francis appears to have become startled and troubled with serious misgivings, for in his written answer he very frankly told his advisers that he dissented from their opinions altogether, and as plainly hinted that their resignations would not be disagreeable to him. Whereupon the first ministry under responsible government mentioned in our colonial records, consisting of Messrs. Peter Robinson, George H. Markland, Joseph Wells, John H. Dunn, Robert Baldwin and John Rolph, tendered their resignations, which were very graciously as well as very gladly accepted. Then followed a vote of want of confidence by the House of Assembly in their successors in office; the stoppage of the supplies; the dissolution of Parliament; the new elections, and the return of a majority prepared to support His Excellency in the old Downing street policy, which he had enunciated.

Mr. Baldwin again courted the retirement which he had reluctantly abandoned; but the charms of privacy were soon to be noisily broken, and in a way and for a purpose of which he had no foreknowledge, and could have had but little expectation. In the result of the elections Sir Francis B. Head had achieved a victory, but unfortunately for his fame, he missed his opportunity, and did not conquer a peace. The head, so to speak, of the reform party accepted defeat with dignity, and withdrew in silence from the strife, but the tail of the party, like the tail in some species of animal life, discovered violent symptoms of muscular vitality even when the head was at rest. Conspiracy succeeded defeat, which on the 4th of December of the following year shewed itself in the form of open revolt. Large bodies of armed men under the lead of Mr. William Lyon MacKenzie, marched towards and menaced the capital. Moreover had they been imbued with the audacity and animated with the pluck of their extraordinary chief, it is difficult to believe that Toronto would have escaped the destruction with which it was threatened. His Excellency, though somewhat of a knight errant, was dismayed and affrighted, as he had good reason to be,[Pg 75] for the circumstances were of the gravest with which he was required to deal. In his difficulty he not unnaturally turned to two gentlemen for assistance, who possessed great popular influence, and who had once enjoyed his confidence as members of His Majesty’s Executive Council in Upper Canada. Those gentlemen were Mr. Robert Baldwin and Dr. Rolph, and the missive with which they were charged was, to use His Excellency’s language, “parentally to call on the rebel leaders and in the name of their Governor to avoid the effusion of human blood.” What occurred on that occasion, so far as one of the negotiators was concerned, has been embarrassed with very perplexing criticisms, on which we are not required to offer an opinion. The press of the province took indiscriminating advantage of the obscurity of those transactions with respect to one, to assail both of the ambassadors. Thus Mr. Baldwin as well as Dr. Rolph became the object of violent attack from one end of the Province to the other. The former, unwisely as we think, relying on his unsullied honor, his unchallenged character, and his unquestionable integrity, thought it inconsistent with his fame to answer with his pen accusations which were rebutted by his life. When, however, Sir Allan Napier MacNab stooped so low as to take advantage of such silence, and repeat in the House of Assembly the charges which had done much to bring discredit on the press, then Mr. Baldwin rose in his place, and on the 13th October, 1842, set the question forever at rest in the following unadorned but convincing words:—

“The Hon. member for Hamilton had thought to drag into the discussion allusion to a matter that was personal to himself,” (referring to a transaction which had been frequently urged against Mr. Baldwin, as something derogatory to his public character, and of a nature to disqualify him from holding a situation in the government of his country). “However little that matter had to do with the question before the house, he had yet no objection to enter upon it. He would beg to recall to the mind of the Hon. and gallant member for Hamilton that his (Mr. B’s) share in that transaction was not a matter of choice with him, but was in a manner forced upon him. He had, indeed, as the Hon. and gallant member affirmed, gone out with a flag of truce to the armed men who[Pg 76] had approached Toronto; but at whose instance? (Hear, hear.) It was at the personal desire, and upon the urgent solicitation of the panic-stricken government of Upper Canada, which came to him in the person of the High Sheriff, to request his interference to stop the deluded men who were approaching the city. He complied, and went out with a flag of truce. He was sent back for some evidence from the head of the government that he really came to them in the character and with the authority he pretended to have. And what was the return he received at the hands of the very man who sent him out? Sir Francis Head, through the same functionary, refused to give him a single line to shew that he had really gone out under his sanction; and this humiliating refusal he was compelled to return and announce to those before whom he had but recently appeared as a party clothed with the authority of the government. Sir Francis Head had not the magnanimity to avow his own act.

“This was the position in which he had been placed before his country by that man who was the idol of the Hon. and learned member. He (Mr. B.) was made to appear in a most equivocal light, and as a man of bad faith, who was trifling with the very lives of his fellow-men under false pretences. And this was the man at whose call he was expected to take up arms! (Hear.) He had acted then as he would now under similar circumstances, and if condemned by that House, which he did not fear, his own heart would sustain him. His country, which had honored him with its confidence, would not condemn him. He had often been assailed upon this point. He had been held up as a rebel and a traitor—not by the Hon. and gallant member, but by the ribald press which was the organ of his party, and whose chief business it appeared to be to heap calumny and abuse in every form that ingenuity could devise, upon their political opponents. But he cared not for this ribald abuse. He passed it over as unworthy of notice. He thanked God that he had a reputation, and he was perfectly willing to rest that reputation upon the verdict his country would pass upon the passages in his career upon which he had been most assailed. (Hear, hear.) Notwithstanding all the abuse which had assailed him in his own country, which had been repeated against him in the mother country, and spread throughout Europe, what was the result? He had had the honor of being appointed to offices of high confidence by three different representatives of his sovereign, and of having these appointments sanctioned by the Sovereign herself, and that confidence continued to him by a fourth representative of the Sovereign, the present head of the Provincial Government. This was his justification—this his best defence against the taunts of his enemies.”

The rebellion brought disgrace on the reform party of Upper Canada, for though the old style of government was scarcely worth fighting for, still it represented for the time being the rule and majesty of England, and every form of armed resistance was therefore[Pg 77] denounced by all who desired such rule. When revolt actually took place, people did not stay to discriminate between what was and what was not constitutional in the form of their government. All such inquiries were postponed, for rebellion had overtaken them, clad in its customary horrors. In the meanwhile the cause of reform had been discredited and thrown back. The cry of the old loyalists that reform and rebellion sprang from the same root, received corroboration on the spot, and all who called themselves reformers suffered in repute, and many suffered in their persons, from the passionate extravagance of some of the least considered members of their body. Under such circumstances there was nothing for Mr. Baldwin to do but to await the course of events, and like charity, to suffer long, and to be kind. The season of suspense was soon to terminate, and a bright beam of approval, from an unlooked-for source, was about to fall across his path, for the Earl of Durham, as the Queen’s Commissioner for administrating the affairs of the Provinces, lost little time in lending the weight of his great name to the opinions which Mr. Baldwin had sought to advance. Neither was the Earl’s acute successor, Baron Sydenham, afraid of the practical consequences of such opinions. Imperious though he was, he was, nevertheless, willing to accept them, for he knew the strength of his will, and felt able to work them out. But apart from all abstract considerations, Lord Sydenham was especially anxious that his Executive Council should be chosen from the moderate, in contradistinction to the extreme parties, which had theretofore divided the Province—both of which he was anxious to destroy. Thus Mr. Draper, as Attorney General, and a moderate conservative, was associated with Mr. Baldwin, as Solicitor-General, and a moderate reformer. Moreover, they had for colleagues such liberals as Messrs. Sullivan, Dunn, Daly, and Harrison, and such conservatives as Messrs. Ogden and Day. The ministry was a ministry of amelioration and compromise, whose chief duties were to reconcile and restore, to re-organize and construct, to perform[Pg 78] that kind of delicate initiatory work which is usually assigned to coalition governments. The members of the administration were sworn in on the 13th February, 1841, and continued, so far as the public were informed, to work in harmony until the 13th June following, the day before Parliament met, when, to the surprise of everybody, Mr. Baldwin not only resigned his office, but took his seat in the ranks of the opposition. The proceeding necessarily occasioned a good deal of animadversion, for admitting that Mr. Baldwin had reasons for the course he pursued, the transaction was generally regarded as unusual, ill-timed, and needlessly embarrassing. Seen by the light of subsequent events, it wears a less ungenerous and more patriotic aspect than it presented at the time, as from some cause, not sufficiently explained, the French Canadians, who were not represented in the administration of that day, because, as it was said, they would not accept the union act, from uncompromising opponents, became the faithful supporters of that act. In fifteen months after his resignation of the office of Solicitor-General, we find Mr. Baldwin as Attorney-General for Upper Canada, working cordially with his colleague, Mr. Lafontaine, who held the corresponding office for Lower Canada, in carrying out that much decried act of union. As we have no more right to question Mr. Baldwin’s foresight and sagacity, than we have to question his steady and intelligent pursuit of what was fair and right, so, also, may we assume, from the result in 1842, that he had sufficient reason for his conduct in 1841. It is probable that his wisdom and generosity of character commended themselves to the Lower Canada party, and, perhaps, went far towards disposing that party to regard with favour, and accept with confidence, his “one idea,” and its lesson; a Provincial Ministry responsible to the Provincial Parliament as the true secret of constitutional government. At all events, the fact is note-worthy, that the list of those who voted for the memorable resolution, which is the text of this article, includes the name of every French Canadian who was present at the division.

[Pg 79]

It devolved on Sir Charles Bagot, the successor of Lord Sydenham, practically, to carry out the theory of government which that resolution embraced, and there can be no doubt that he did so with singular fidelity and courage. He attached plain meanings to plain words, and he accepted, without cavil or casuistry, the responsibility which such meanings imposed. He called to his councils, Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Lafontaine, as representing the majority at that time in the Legislative Assembly, and charged them with the duty of forming an administration, giving them, the assurance of his full confidence and thorough support. Thus on the 16th September, 1842, after an exact agreement had been arrived at between the representation of the Sovereign and his constitutional advisers, was the first responsible ministry of united Canada sworn in, and thus was set the official seal of approval to the persevering labors of Mr. Baldwin’s life.

On the untimely death of Sir Charles Bagot, Lord Metcalfe succeeded to the government. That excellent and high minded nobleman took a view of responsible government different from the view which had been taken by his immediate predecessor, and we may add, more in unison with that which had been held by Sir Francis Head; for, like the latter, Lord Metcalfe desired to be a British minister and not a Canadian monarch. He soon quarrelled with his advisers, and on the 28th November, 1843, accepted their resignation. In the autumn of the following year he dissolved parliament, and appealed to the people. The new elections gave His Excellency’s new administration a harassing maximum majority of six votes, and consequently placed Mr. Baldwin and his party in opposition. The next general election occurred in 1848, and resulted favorably, in both provinces, to the reform party. On the 10th March of that year, the Earl of Elgin, the then Governor-General, laid his commands on Mr. Lafontaine and Mr. Baldwin to assume the responsibility of forming a new ministry. The administration thus formed, with some modifications and changes,[Pg 80] continued in power until the 27th October, 1851, when the two friends and leaders, amidst the regrets of their party, retired permanently into private life.

In 1841 Mr. Baldwin was returned as a member for two counties, viz: Hastings and the North Riding of York. He was elected to sit for the former, but when he appealed to that county for re-election in the following year, on his accepting the office of Attorney-General, he found himself successfully opposed by the late Mr. Murney. He therefore took refuge in the Lower Canada county of Rimouski, whose member very gracefully made way for him. In the second and third parliaments he sat for the North Riding of York. When he presented himself for re-election in 1851, he encountered opposition in the person of Mr. Hartman, and what may seem more surprising, he met with defeat. The history of that period is too recent to require recital here. The reform party was, perhaps, too ponderous to be kept together; its weight was probably its weakness; at all events, it fell asunder, and the separated parts represented its moderate and extreme elements. Mr. Baldwin sympathized with the former while his constituents bestowed their affections on the latter. His experience had taught him that in the interests of public safety, minorities required protection, while their sentiments instructed them that in the interests of retributive justice, minorities required punishment. As the advocates of extreme measures (for liberals are often illiberal) the gentleness of their representative was displeasing to them, they had little patience with his scruples on the subject of vested rights, and none at all with them when such rights had their roots in clerical or collegiate properties. Thus the reformers of the North Riding accepted the rupture of their party with cheerfulness, and they chose their side with complacency, and having done so, they were consistent enough in preferring Mr. Hartman to Mr. Baldwin. The following is the address of the latter to the electors when the state of the poll was declared. It is eloquent for its truth, touching for its generosity,[Pg 81] and almost terrible for the incisive delicacy of its reproaches. Certainly, there was a moral victory in the political defeat, for Mr. Baldwin had rarely appeared to greater advantage as a public man, than when he thanked his friends, forgave his enemies, and spoke his farewell to public life.


The Returning Officer having, from the hustings outside, declared the state of the poll, and the return of Mr. Hartman, a desire was intimated to adjourn to the adjoining Court House, to hear what was to be said. This being concurred in, those present, to the number of 100, moved into the Court House, and Mr. Baldwin, followed by Mr. Hartman, ascended a sort of elevated desk. Mr. Baldwin first addressed the meeting. He said the audience had just heard the declaration of a fact that severed the political tie which had, for the last eleven years, connected him with the North Riding of York. It might be said, and no doubt was said by many, that he ought to have withdrawn from the representation of the Riding, rather than contest it under the circumstances which led to the result just announced. He did not view the matter in that light. He felt that a strong sense of duty required him to take a different course, and not to take on himself the responsibility of originating the disruption of a bond which they had formed and repeatedly renewed, between him and the electors of the North Riding. So far as he was able impartially to review the course he had hitherto, and especially for the last four years, pursued, he could see no change in himself, nothing which should have induced them to withdraw a confidence repeatedly expressed at former elections. All circumstances duly considered, he could not recall any act of importance which he had performed, or for which he was responsible, that his sense of duty to his country did not require, or, at least, did not justify. In the course of the canvass just ended, he had frequent opportunities of explaining his views to those who sustained, and occasionally to those who opposed him. It was unnecessary for him then to repeat those views; but he felt it due to his own sense of right, and to the opinions of his friends, to say that, under present circumstances, he saw no reason to withhold a sincere re-assertion of them. In his own mind he could find nothing that would justify him under all the circumstances, in pursuing a different course from that which he had taken. He had the satisfaction of knowing that there were intelligent men of a noble spirit in this Riding who concurred with him—staunch friends of former days, who had on the recent occasion given him their assistance and votes, in the face of, as the result showed, very discouraging circumstances. Principles so approved in his own mind, and so supported by such friends, he could not abandon. Until constitutionally advised to the contrary by the votes of the majority, he felt bound to believe that what he had always supported, what his constituents had frequently affirmed at former elections—what[Pg 82] he still believed to be right—what he knew to be still sustained by men of valuable character, was also still concurred in by a majority at least of his constituents. He believed, indeed, that his successful opponent did not differ from him in his view of his (Mr. Baldwin’s) position. Under those circumstances he felt he would not be justified in accepting any evidence of a change in the minds of his constituents less doubtful than that of their own recorded votes. It could not now be said of him in leaving, that he had abandoned them. These considerations had impelled him not to shrink from the ordeal of a contest, nor from the announcement now made of its result, however discouraging that result might be considered. It only remained for him now to return his cordial thanks, first and most especially to the staunch friends who in the face of disheartening circumstances had manfully recorded their votes for him, and actively assisted him at the polls and otherwise. To these he felt he could not adequately express his obligations. He would also say that his acknowledgments were due to those who had been his supporters on former occasions, not excepting out of this number his successful rival, for the kindness he had met with among them, and for the courteous manner to himself personally, in which the opposition to him had been conducted. They would part, but part in friendship. They had withdrawn their political confidence from him, and he was now free from responsibility to them. There were among the points of difference between him and their member elect, some not unimportant principles, but although he could not without some alarm observe a tendency which he considered evil, still to all of them personally, he wished the utmost prosperity and happiness they could desire. To his friends, then, of the North Riding, gratefully and not without regret, to his opponents without any feeling of unkindness, he would now say, Farewell.

Such was Mr. Baldwin’s last appearance on the hustings. True in heart, in action and in thought, and arrayed in the symbolic vestments of that quality which “thinketh no evil” he gracefully withdrew from public life. It is true that in 1858, a large number of the electors, irrespective of party, resident in the York Division, requested permission to nominate him as a candidate for that division in Legislative Council, but it is equally true, that he declined the proffered honor. There is no reason to believe his opinions had undergone any change on the inexpediency of the act which made the Upper House elective, for time had failed to instruct him wherein the advantage lay of having two chambers instead of one dependent on the same suffrage. But in the absence of his specified reasons we may assume that he was then, as formerly, disinclined[Pg 83] to give the sanction of his name to an innovation which was as contrary to his judgment in 1858 as it had been in 1829. The temptation was no doubt surrounded with attractions to one who like Mr. Baldwin was by no means indifferent to the good-will of his countrymen, for he was the last man to disparage or undervalue personal distinctions, no matter whether they fell in the form of honors from the hand of his sovereign or were bestowed in the shape of trusts by the suffrages of her subjects.

In looking back to his career we may note that there were some desirable things which he sought to do, but failed to accomplish, and that there were other things which he brought about in a patient unswerving way, that excited the envy of many and will command the admiration of all. In the former list may be included his act for the suppression of secret societies. However desirable such a measure may have been in the abstract, the particular bill was ill-timed, and thus became obnoxious to the suspicion of being, under cover of a general law, directed against a particular society, and hence it was resisted because it seemed to be less an act of principle than an act of punishment. But in spite of the drawbacks which surrounded the transaction, there were many persons, and their number is increasing, who deem it to be undesirable that societies incorporated to perpetuate national or religious distinctions should be cheered with unnecessary smiles, or protected against admonitory frowns, and who consequently endeavor, through the influence of their example, to diminish the number of such associations. Mr. Baldwin sought to make men think less of their separate origins and more of their common country; less of the enmities of their ancestors, and more of the brotherhood of their children; less of old world feuds, and more of new world peace. Love of country with him was a passion, and the union of its inhabitants, irrespective of creed, race or language, became one of the chief aims of his patriotic policy.

As a legislator and a law reformer, Mr. Baldwin will hold a place[Pg 84] in Canadian history second to none of his contemporaries. He surrendered himself wholly to the good of his country and to the duties which that surrender implied. His works were labors of permanent utility most thoughtfully constructed, such as would wear well and bear the strain of time. He has been called, but perhaps with too little regard to exactness, “the father” of our municipal system, and thus “the grandfather” of the system has been overlooked. Mr. Baldwin adopted and expanded the principle of Mr. Draper’s excellent Bill for the establishment of local and municipal authorities in Upper Canada; but he was too just a man to undervalue the great work of his gifted predecessor. Certainly Mr. Baldwin’s amendment of the municipal law is such a monument of labor and wisdom, as the municipal councils of Upper Canada might acknowledge by erecting a statue to his memory at their expense. But the municipal law of Upper Canada is not only an example of his patience, wisdom, and perseverance, it is also an evidence of his reverence for antiquity. He was fond of old pictures, old books, old newspapers, and old fashions. Hence in forming his municipal system he revived disused or forgotten names, and dug assiduously beneath the crust of centuries for descriptive terms, for the new officers which his act created; the meaning of which few modern English dictionaries have preserved. The honor of being a “Reeve” for example, drew many a smile from the ignorant and provoked many a question from the curious. Our jury system was wholly revised, and in a great measure completed by him. The Upper Canada Law Journal truly observes,—“Had Mr. Baldwin never done more than enact our municipal and jury laws, he would have done enough to entitle his memory to the lasting respect of the inhabitants of this province. Neighboring provinces are adopting the one and the other almost intact, as an embodiment of wisdom, united with practical usefulness equally noted for simplicity and completeness of detail not to be found elsewhere.” But these great measures were not all: he constituted the Court of Common Pleas for Upper[Pg 85] Canada, and re-modelled and, at the same time, made popular the Court of Chancery—and although the latter measure was turned temporarily to his hurt, the public, as well as the profession, have since learned how much they are indebted to him for amending its constitution.

Unlike his partner, the Hon. B. B. Sullivan, Mr. Baldwin was not, as we incline to think, either a rapid thinker or a fluent speaker. His mind, like his gait, was rather slow than active in its motions, for his abilities were more of a solid than of a brilliant order. He had little imaginative power, and therefore he rarely dazzled. His was a character rather to command respect than to inspire enthusiasm. He was a sure footed rather than a swift footed leader; if the difficult ground would not bear him he declined to bound over it. He marched with steadiness, but he rarely attempted a manœuvre, for he was not a skilful tactician. His view of official duty was free from alloy and beyond the reach of littleness. Power with him was a means and not an end, and place with him was a possession held in trust for the advantage of others, and he would stoop to no littleness to use the one or keep the other. Had he possessed the poet’s heritage, invention and fancy, he would probably have treated such properties with distrust and suspicion, lest they should mislead him, or dispose him to lead others into error. His character was made up of industry and assiduity, of intelligence and integrity; of purity and truth. No judge would have required his oath, for no suitor ever doubted his word. He would not discredit his character by misrepresenting the law to a Judge or the facts to a jury. He would no more suppress a reference than he would misquote a statute. Even while acting as advocate for his client, he seemed to constitute himself the legal adviser of the jury. He was by no means unsuccessful as an advocate, but he was probably more at home as a counsel. In the latter character his advice was invaluable, not only because he was a sound lawyer but because he saw both sides of the case, and shewed what he saw to the mind of his client. In[Pg 86] his profession as in parliament, he always wore the “white flower of a blameless life,” and he fairly won the moral homage of all, even of those who most persistently opposed his policy.

Nor may we omit to notice the graceful compliment which the Commons of Canada paid to his memory in the last Session of their Legislature. As Canning, after the death of Pitt, acknowledged no political leader, so Mr. Sandfield Macdonald, after the retirement of Mr. Baldwin, recognized no parliamentary chief. None therefore with greater fitness than he could have proposed the resolution which Mr. Holton seconded, and which was carried unanimously, to appropriate a certain sum of money for the purpose of procuring a marble bust of the Honorable Robert Baldwin, to be placed in the Halls of Parliament.

Mr. Baldwin was elected a Bencher of the Law Society in 1830, appointed Solicitor General in 1841; Queen’s Counsel and Attorney General in 1842, and at the Michaelmas Term, 1850, he was elected Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada. In December, 1854, he was created by Her Majesty a Companion of the Bath, a distinction which gratified the people of Canada as much as it did the statesman whom the Queen had “delighted to honor.” His name fills a large and important space in the history of Osgoode Hall, where his memory is as lovingly cherished as his quiet, thoughtful face is affectionately remembered. Students recall as a treasured recollection his encouraging smile in their ordeal of trepidation, and practitioners then on the threshold of their profession, remember the generous helping hand that was ever ready to assist them. Neither was his grave face typical of a morose mind, or his quiet manner the expression of a severe nature. On the contrary, there was an amount of underlying playfulness in his character of which the mere observer could have had but little suspicion. There are many living who will easily recall the “good old times” before the age and its inventions caused every man to be, or affect to be, in a hurry, before railways were constructed in Canada; when there[Pg 87] was leisure for mirth, as well as space for wisdom. Such persons being members of the legal profession, may recall the Canadian modification of the “high jinks” of Pleydell, as portrayed in Guy Mannering, as they were enacted at Osgoode Hall, or of the professional carnival as related by Lord Campbell in his lives of the Chancellors, when for the amusement of the Judges the barristers danced with each other in the Inns of Court. The Judges of the Canadian Courts, notwithstanding their reputation of gravity, are not incapable of being amused, or of discovering a wholesome medicine in amusement, and thus it came to pass that the professional “jinks” as performed at Toronto, were as much appreciated by the Bench as by the Bar, for fun glided gradually from wisdom to mirth, but unlike that of Paulus Pleydell, it halted before it touched extravagance. Several years ago it was customary for the Osgoode Society to celebrate the close of Trinity Term with a Bar dinner, but this festival, like a tragedy in five acts, was only the solemn prelude to the “screaming farce” which, like the sugar plum after the senna, is intended to soften and qualify the previous flavor. A Court was improvised in all respects as opposite as it could be to the Courts by law established. Thus the youngest barrister on the roll was in honor of his youth and inexperience nominated Judge. The offenders were accounted guilty until they could be proved innocent, while the Judges of the country, whose duty required them officially to preside in other places, besides being the chief guests at the dinner, were regarded as the outside public and mere spectators of the ceremony. The success of the “jinks” depended more on the fitness of the improvised Sheriff than of the accidental Judge, as the former officer was, in fact, the master of the revels. It was his special duty to maintain impossible order, to preserve impossible silence, and to arrest, perchance, the most innocent, and pass by the most hardened offenders. At such merry makings Mr. Baldwin, as we are assured, was the most popular of sheriffs. He forgot his gravity, he forgot responsible government, the clergy reserves, and[Pg 88] university questions, and like a boy fresh from school at Christmas time, he caught the spirit of the carnival and abandoned himself to its guidance. He thus became the life of the party, and performed with infinite zest any duty which the Court laid upon him. He would manfully seize the indicated offender, and haul him before the Judge, and see to it that fine and punishment were summarily enforced. The former being collected, the latter in obedience to the direction of the Court, was administered by the Sheriff, as a sentence of libation, whereat the offender was obliged to do homage to everybody, and drink a bumper of cheerful beverage to his better luck in time to come.

In drawing our sketch to a close we must note one or two traits of character which should not pass unobserved. Mr. Baldwin was singularly exact, as well as laborious, for method and order were conspicuous in all he did. From the outset of his career he lengthened his days, and it is to be feared shortened his life, with work. His attendance at his office commenced at seven in the morning, and continued with the interruption of short seasons for meals until nine in the evening. He was a most diligent law student and he was proud of his profession. During the currency of his articles he succeeded, in connection with others, in establishing a club called the Trinity Class Club, which proved useful enough to be recognised and accepted by the Law Society as a means of affording aid in the study of the law. In the family circle Mr. Baldwin’s pure and simple character shone with congenial brightness. At home he was cheerful and kindly, considerate and natural. Always inclined to think more for others than for himself, he was never unwilling to make his contribution to the happiness of those about him. If one were needed to complete a game, or to make up a dance, he would smile acquiescence and become that one; not that he enjoyed games or had pleasure in dancing, but that he had pleasure in putting away from him the vice of selfishness, and of making sacrifices for the happiness of others. The enemy of no one, he was the staunchest, truest,[Pg 89] and most reliable of friends. One who had enjoyed the opportunity of observing him intimately for years, said to the writer, “Mr. Baldwin was the best man I ever knew.”

It is scarcely necessary for us to add that Mr. Baldwin was in the best sense a truly devout man, who shewed in the humility of his life and character the gentle bearing of a high bred Christian. He was a devoted member of the Anglican Church and religiously observed all her rites and ceremonies, and conscientiously kept her appointed fasts and festivals. He gloried in her liturgy, and shared the common sentiment of admiration on the touching beauty of her common prayer. He reverenced her forms, recognized the validity of her orders, believed her creeds, and found blessing in her sacraments. More than this, he appreciated and set no light value on the liberality of her doctrines at a time when it was most usual to insist on their exclusiveness. He saw then distinctly what the theologians of that day appeared to see less clearly, that the Anglican Church was a sacred and not a secular organization, and that her relation to man was something apart from any particular form of temporal government. It was instructive to observe Mr. Baldwin at church, for he bore in his serene manner those marks of reverence, attention and devotion which we seek for more commonly than we find in the congregations of those who, nevertheless, profess to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”

He died on the 9th December, 1858, and he was buried in the “sepulchre of his father” at the family estate at Spadina. As the office for the burial of the dead was ended, as the old familiar words of prayer and hope died on the crisp wintry air, as the peaceful benediction became hushed in the soft “amen,” a thought arose in the minds of some, which found expression in the words of the Psalmist,


[Pg 91]



To have been educated and brought up in the ancient capital of Canada should have been of especial advantage to Mr. Chauveau; for the charming surroundings of that charming locality are well calculated to call into play the light and fanciful, as well as the more severe and exact qualities of his mind. Sentiment and poetry, in a very marked way, are enfolded with the fibres of his thoughts, and frequently interlace the utterances of his lips. They cross and recross one another like the shuttle of a skilful weaver, and impart, we scarcely know by what process, a camera-like colouring to his mental fabric, which is sometimes peculiar, sometimes capricious, but always attractive. If however the woof of his character is variable in its hues, the warp is fast, and we may add distinctly dyed with the “true blue” tints of his nationality. With a mind naturally inclined to sympathise with external objects, Mr. Chauveau’s lot has been cast in the midst of objects calculated to stimulate such sympathy. The place of his birth, to an unusual extent, is associated with history and fable, with truth and fiction, with strife and faith. It is, comparatively speaking, rich in historic treasure; for the archives of Quebec contain curious chronicles, while its colleges have produced enthusiastic scribes. Besides being in the highest degree picturesque, the environs of that city may, so to speak, be regarded as living witnesses as well as silent monuments of the past. The[Pg 92] mountains which surround the quaint, old, half-modern and half-middle-age place, like grave old chancellors in brown and white wigs, look as if they were the accredited keepers of the rolls and muniments, the actual history, and the pleasant legends of the past. The lakes which, mirror-like, gleam among the hills, smile misleading smiles, as if their dimpled faces could, if they liked, shadow forth other and brighter objects than the grim and solemn mountains by which they are enclosed. The shores which fringe those crystal basins, and the rivers which flow into them, have been used as the highways of some curious and some heroic exploits, while the plains which stretch beyond their margins may be regarded as the tablets whereon strange records are inscribed. Within the three centuries since the adventurous sailor of St. Malo’s took possession of the country in the name of his sovereign, and planted the cross on the banks of the St. Charles, in the name of his Saviour, many deeds have been done to interest the historian and move the poet. In one place such facts are written by the hand of war in the rough characters of blood; in another they are pointed with the finger of faith in the sacred cyphers of Christianity. Here they instruct us how multitudes were dispersed by the sword, and there they inform us how tribes were attracted by the cross. They tell us, too, how people who were irreconcilable enemies in Europe, have lived together happily as friends in America, and how men who might not without peril worship at different altars in the old world, have done so in the new without fear either of the faggot or the cord. Moreover, Quebec proper is in itself a place of pleasant contrasts, as well as of curious contradictions. It is an old world city in a new world country; a fortress and a mart; a depot for arms and an emporium for trade; and to complete the paradox it is the peaceful abode of races whom war had separated for centuries.

“Few cities”, says Mr. Marmier, “in his letters from America in 1860, offer as many striking contrasts as Quebec, a fortress and a commercial city together built upon[Pg 93] the summit of a rock as the nest of an eagle, while her vessels are everywhere wrinkling the face of the Ocean, an American city inhabited by French colonists, governed by England, and garrisoned by Scotch regiments; a city of the middle ages by most of its ancient institutions, while it is regulated by all the combinations of modern constitutional government; an European City by its civilization and its habits of refinement, and still close by the remnants of the Indian tribes and the barren mountains of the north; a city with about the same latitude as Paris, while successively combining the torrid climate of southern regions with the severities of an hyperborean winter, a city at the same time Catholic and Protestant, where the labours of our Missions are still uninterrupted alongside of the undertaking of the Bible Society, and where the Jesuits driven out of our own country find a place of refuge under the aegis of British puritanism.”

Such are the physical, social, and political attractions of the city wherein Mr. Chauveau was born on the 30th May, 1820. His ancestors for generations had resided at Charlesbourg near Quebec, where, as we have reason to infer, they were respected and influential. Perchance they were connected with the “brave Pierre Chauveu,” whom Champlain left to govern the colony, when he embarked for France in the year 1610. Mr. Chauveau’s father died when the subject of this sketch was very young, and perhaps to this seeming misfortune may be attributed the fact of his having been withdrawn from rural occupations and brought up to professional life under the direction of his uncle, who seems to have acted in the capacity of a friend as well as of a guardian. He was educated at the seminary of Quebec, where, as we have been informed, he attracted a good deal of notice. On leaving college he was articled as a law student, in the first instance to Messrs. Hamel and Roy, and subsequently to Mr. O’Kill Stuart, of Quebec, with whom he completed his indentures of service. The incipient yearnings of his nature made themselves conspicuous in the early part of his career when he gave the rein to literature and placed the curb in law. In his eighteenth year, when youths very commonly rattle jingles, or cap rhymes, he sent poetical contributions to Le Canadien newspaper, which were of sufficient merit in the opinion of the fastidious editor to find a place in its columns.[Pg 94] After attaining his majority, he glided from poetry to politics and became the correspondent of Le Courrier des États-Unis, then and now published at New-York, as well as an occasional contributor to other less known publications. His letters as we learn were copied into Le Canadien as well as other papers published in the French language and were criticized with some care by the readers, but with no loss of repute to the writer. Indeed they became his “letters of credit,” and were honoured as such by his countrymen when the proper time came.

That time arrived in the autumn of 1844. Having disagreed with and dismissed his advisers, Lord Metcalfe dissolved the Parliament and appealed to the people. The Hon. D. B. Viger had supported Lord Metcalfe, and the Hon. John Neilson, who was the attached friend of Mr. Viger, though he had declined office, was suspected of sympathizing in the sentiments which his venerable friend cherished towards the benevolent Governor General. As in 1834, Mr. Neilson’s moderation had caused him the loss of his election for the county of Quebec, so in 1844 a somewhat similar line of action moved that large constituency to transfer to his youthful rival, Mr. Chauveau, the trust which they had for so long a time reposed in him, for the latter was elected by a majority exceeding one thousand votes.

The position taken by the French Canadian party was very embarrassing to the administration of the day. Almost all the representatives from Upper Canada supported Lord Metcalfe, while those from Lower Canada took sides with his dismissed advisers. Thus was the united province governed by means so thoroughly sectional as to be hurtful and to appear scandalous. In 1846 the present Chief Justice Draper, at that time the Attorney General for Canada West, in a clever, albeit a decidedly diplomatic, and a somewhat hazy way, endeavoured to attract the Canadian party by appealing through Mr. Caron, to its chief, Mr. Lafontaine, for assistance in carrying on the government. The effort resulted in failure, and[Pg 95] Mr. Draper soon afterwards retired from the administration. In the following year Mr. Cayley sought to break the Canadian phalanx by appealing to Mr. Caron in the hope apparently of attaching the Quebec section of the party to the conservative party of the Western Province. The negotiation did not succeed at the time, but it was not without influence on some who took no part in it. The idea enunciated in those letters fell like yeast in the conservative element, which is more or less latent in all minds, and in due time set it rising, albeit the result was probably delayed by the determination of Mr. Cayley and his colleagues to dissolve the Parliament and appeal to the people.

The result was fatal to the government, for their party was utterly routed at the polls in both sections of the Province. Thus when Mr. Lafontaine was called upon to form an administration in 1848, he was strong enough, so it was alleged, to have done so without paying any special compliment to the Quebec section of his supporters. Whether any slight was actually offered to those supporters we have no means of knowing, but for some reason with which we are unacquainted, Mr. Chauveau occasionally voted with Mr. Papineau and against Mr. Lafontaine.

On the 12th November, 1851, on the reconstruction of the government consequent on the retirement of Messrs. Lafontaine and Baldwin, Mr. Chauveau was appointed under the Hincks-Taché administration, Solicitor-General for Lower Canada, and on the 31st August, 1853, he was preferred to the higher office of Provincial Secretary with a seat in the Executive Council. The latter office he resigned in January, 1855, when he retired with Mr. Morin from the administration. In July of the same year, he was in succession to Dr. Meilleur, appointed Chief Superintendent of Education for Lower Canada, an office which he still continues to fill, and for the duties of which he has sought to qualify himself by foreign travel and by closely observing the educational systems[Pg 96] of the continent of Europe as well as those of the British Islands and of the United States of America.

The duties of Chief Superintendent of Education under the most favourable circumstances are not, we venture to think, easily discharged, but in a community of mixed races, of different languages and of antagonistic forms of religious faith, where men are on the alert to discover concealed leanings, to detect latent weaknesses, or to descry hidden faults, it is almost a matter for surprise that they are discharged at all. That Mr. Chauveau has been able to perform such duties with credit and satisfaction, is of itself no small matter for congratulation. The fact may be accepted as an evidence that those essential administrative qualities, wisdom, temper and discretion are never absent from his mind or from his office. Of a sensitive, and as we should conjecture, of an impulsive temperament, Mr. Chauveau has nevertheless had the sagacity to discipline his thoughts to patience, and though he may occasionally have been tempted to be partial, he has always so far as we are informed, shewn the courage to be just. The Chief Superintendent of Education is rather the moderator for a Province than the minister of a party, and, therefore, his proceedings should be conducted with the fairness of a judge rather than with the feeling of a politician. The equitable habit of thought which is inseparable from a proper conduct of affairs has enabled Mr. Chauveau to distinguish between prejudice and wrong, while his position and force of character have given him the opportunity, directly or indirectly, to allay the former with an explanation, and to remove the latter by law. Mr. Chauveau has continued to fill this important office from 1855 to the present time. Its difficult duties have become easy and agreeable to him, and we only repeat the common opinion, in saying that he has by his discharge of those duties, justified the selection which the ministers of the Crown made when they recommended his appointment. In striving to deserve success, men may occasionally command it. Mr. Chauveau has,[Pg 97] we think, thus striven. He has done more than his duty, for he has not been content to perform only the minimum amount of work which his office requires; on the contrary, he has labored with enthusiasm as well as industry, to be generally useful as well as actually efficient. If we would read the history of his exertions, we must do so not only in the records of his office; in his numerous contributions to contemporary literature; in his Journal of Education; and in the School history of Lower Canada; but in those outside and extraneous efforts with which his career is conspicuously marked. As in the case of Mr. D’Arcy McGee, so also in that of Mr. Chauveau,—where speeches are to be made, essays to be prepared, or papers to be read, the English speaking part of the community seem, as a matter of course, to call on the former, while the French speaking portion of the community pay the like compliment to the latter. In both cases they appear to suppose that gifted men are like musical boxes, who can involuntarily, and without preparation, in obedience to a sign, or in answer to a touch, charm, amuse and instruct any number of all sorts of people.

Like other men in official station Mr. Chauveau has found recreation as well as pleasure in that particular kind of literature which English statesmen have occasionally chosen as a popular channel for conveying political opinions, or for advancing party interests. Thus, in 1853 he published an exceedingly presentable and well got up novel, entitled Charles Guerin roman de mœurs Canadiennes. A work of fiction of such pretence was a novelty in the Province. It was naturally received with favor in Canada. In France it was read with avidity and pronounced by the critics to be an exceedingly good book. He also wrote a narrative of the visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to British North America, which was pleasant to read and picturesque to look at, for it was studded with illustrations.

As a speaker Mr. Chauveau is a fair Parliamentary debater,[Pg 98] always fluent and sometimes impassioned. He is naturally decorous and conciliatory, never prosy, and generally attractive. As a speaker out of parliament he is known and appreciated for the felicity of his efforts. He was, as we think, eloquent and happy when he spoke at Montreal on the tercentenary of Shakspeare’s birth; and on the other hand he was more eloquent than happy when he delivered his oration over the grave of his friend the author of the history of Canada. In making the comparison the fact should not be overlooked that in the former case his thoughts were under the influence of reason, controlled by a criticism that was iced and clarified in the common refrigeratory of three centuries, but in the latter they were directed by affection too sincere to be critical;—too ardent to be chilled within the interval of a few days. The subject in the one case was, so to speak, “a storied urn or a monumental bust” and in the other a friend who might have been dearer than a brother, a friend, too, whose death was so recent that he had scarcely lost the lineaments of life. When our human instincts are deeply stirred the words in which sorrow finds expression may neither be wise nor well chosen. But when grief has ceased to be recent, and reflection has succeeded feeling, it is probable that our judgment will be found in harmony with the common judgment of men, and we shall shrink dissatisfied from a ceremony which includes the substitution of panegyric for prayer. Doubtless we may excuse, but it is difficult to admire the “voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely” when that voice attunes itself to the soft syllables of flattery, and at the very mouth of the grave, drops the honied words of compliment into the “dull cold ear of death.”

In the month of August, 1867, after Mr. Cauchon had discovered that the duty of forming an administration for the Province of Quebec was attended with unforeseen difficulties, he at once resigned the task. Whereupon the public mind concurred with the ministerial mind in suggesting that Mr. Chauveau should be invited to undertake the responsibility. The negotiations were[Pg 99] successfully carried out, and the administration, of which he is now the chief, was speedily announced in the Canada Gazette.

Great changes have passed over the Province since Mr. Chauveau retired from the government in 1855. Though removed by the duties of his office from active participation in political affairs, he nevertheless is much too thoughtful and patriotic in disposition and character, to have been an indifferent or an unobservant spectator of the drama which was passing before him. Scene succeeded scene, and act followed act; the past with all its contrarieties, picturesque enough when viewed through the charities of memory; and the future with all its uncertainties, still bright enough to be garlanded with the pleasures of hope. Thus the curtain fell on the imposing tableau of the Delegates in council; and thus the old Province of Canada, with its pleasant recollections and unpleasant regrets, like a dissolving view, melted away in light. It concerns those who are now high in station and great in influence, who are the builders, if not the architects, of the new Dominion, to see to it that that light does not become darkness. It concerns them to study very patiently the new problem of union in all its aspects, moral and religious, political and commercial, social and economical, for it should be the chief aim of the patriot and the chief duty of the statesmen to knit and bind together the various parts of our mixed population in one perfect and, if possible, symmetrical whole. It is true policy as well as true wisdom, to remember that the first condition of national stability and strength must be sought for in the union of the people which constitute the nation; not in a geographical union of territories merely, but in an actual union of sections and races also. Intangible lines of latitude and longitude will be found alike weak and worthless, if the hearts and minds of the people which those lines enclose, be not drawn together by the stronger chords of interest and affection. “Oh statesmen! guide us, guard us!” By every patriotic consideration, by the responsibilities of your position; the treasures of[Pg 100] your experience, the power of your eloquence; and the force of your example; by every influence you can exert, and by every lesson you can impart, teach us the higher law; teach us by what process time should sweeten memory, and in what way those roots of bitterness which flourished in the past, may be buried in the future; teach us what we “owe to our new born nation;” for be well assured that by means of the littleness that is latent in our nature, by the passions that corrupt, and the prejudices that control us, we shall discover without teaching what is due to our section or to our race.

[Pg 101]



Ormiston Hall, on the westerly border of Haddingtonshire, the seat of the Earl of Hopetoun, derives its name from the parish in which it is situated. Among the incidents of interest which attach to the parish may be mentioned that in 1546, George Wishart, whose memory is cherished in the Scottish calendar of martyrs, was dwelling in the old house, the site we believe of the present hall, where he preached occasionally under the shadow of a yew tree, which then grew, and we believe still flourishes there. While thus occupying himself he was seized by the Earl of Bothwell, acting under the orders of Cardinal Beaton, and led away to death. We have no information of the Orme from whom the parish derives its name, neither do we know whether his descendants in the sixteenth century took sides with the protestant or with the catholic party. We can only say that if the blood of the founder of that parish flows in the veins of the subject of this sketch, we have in Canada no craven representative of those principles for which the martyr of Ormiston perished at the stake at St. Andrews.

Without dwelling on a passing conceit we may observe that William Ormiston was born in the parish of Symington on the banks of the Clyde, and furthermore that he commenced his life in a sensational way, for he paid a neat compliment to the titular Saint of “merrie” England by making his appearance in the flesh on St. George’s day, 1821. His father, who was a humble minded, but, as[Pg 102] we infer a severe Scot, was a tenant farmer. The farm he occupied was overshadowed by the hill of Tinto, and sloped towards the dale of Clyde. From his vigorous parents, he derived a more than ordinary share of good health, from their example he acquired industrious habits, and from their instruction he received a religious training. He was naturally accustomed to cherish bright views of life, views which happily for him were never jaundiced by ill health, or soured by ill usage. When eight years old, like an incipient Norval, he herded his father’s cows. Idleness formed no part of his home life, for Scotch youths at that day were not allowed to indulge in the dangerous luxury of doing nothing. His parents were good disciplinarians who neither declined work for themselves, nor avoided it for their son. The latter, for example, was required by his father every day, and in all weathers, when cattle could be abroad, to be up and out at five o’clock in the morning. His mother, in her way, seconded the zeal of his father, never failing to have ready for him the food convenient; of which we have little doubt, before sun set, the sturdy urchin rendered an excellent account. In the winter season he attended the parish school, the master of which was wont to gratify pupil and parents by making favorable reports of the progress of his scholar.

In his tenth year his father moved to a farm situated near Habbies How, in the midst of memorials consecrated by the sufferings of the covenanters, and, we may add the scene of Allan Ramsay’s Gentle Shepherd. While there young Ormiston attended two schools, the first at Linton, and the second at Nine-mile-Burn. He and others may remember the lines appropriated by a local innkeeper and placed by him for the encouragement of tippler and traveller on the inn sign of the village:

Gae farer doon the burn to Habbies How,
Where a’ the sweets o’ spring an’ simmer grow,
And when you’re tired of prattling side the rill,
Come back to Nine-mile-Burn and tak’ a gill.

[Pg 103]

And many who read the lines of the Gentle Shepherd, followed their seductive advice; but not so our herdsman,—like a true son of Rechab, he shunned then and has avoided since the steaming attractions of a bailie’s toddy, or the sterner temptations of a shepherd’s grog. Indeed, we doubt if he would now “tak’ a gill” even though it should be presented to him with the honors of a stirrup cup at the Nine-mile-Burn.

A change in fortune was about to take place. The elder Ormiston determined to emigrate with his family to Canada. To secure school advantages for his children he deemed it to be prudent to spend the winter of 1833-4 in the old town of Lanark, where we have little doubt the ardent mind of his son William became excited in a Caledonian way, as well as impressed in a patriotic one, by being brought face to face with the statue of Wallace, which then stood over the parish church door. It is possible that, after a boyish sort, he there caught the spirit of high endeavor, which the subject suggested, and which he has subsequently displayed. Perchance he there resolved in a rational, as well as in a rhetorical manner, to “do or die.”

With a good deal of undisciplined thought in his head and an equal amount of indefinite resolve in his heart, he accompanied his parents in the spring of 1834 to Upper Canada, and settled with them in the Township of Darlington, now famous for its fine farms, superb stock, and prosperous people; but at that time a comparative wilderness. The new immigrants found the work of settlement to be a very real as well as a very lonely occupation, for they lived five miles from any neighbor, and were required by the duties of their situation to study anew their lessons on agriculture and tillage. In his childhood, for example, William Ormiston had learnt how to herd his father’s cows. As a youth, the more difficult task was imposed on him of driving his father’s oxen. We recommend those who think such occupation an easy one to try their hand with the first “Buck and Bright” they meet with in the same yoke. Such persons will[Pg 104] probably find as a result of the experiment that angry thoughts will arise in their minds and naughty words will make rough efforts to escape their lips. “Buck and Bright” will care as little for the one as the other. Moreover the application of indiscreet violence will only hasten the probable crash. Now among other lessons which we have no doubt that William Ormiston learned at the parish school was the notable one, with an illustration, “that stratagem is better than force.” Thus, when he drove or attempted to drive his father’s oxen, he resorted to stratagem, for “Buck and Bright” resented force and were not amenable to Lowland coaxing. Whereupon he actually tested, and as we are credibly informed, with signal success, an experiment which might be added to the list of examples illustrative of the beneficence of “Martin’s Act.” He found that creatures whom he could not drive might be enticed. A few handfuls of corn were discovered to be a decoy sufficiently attractive to provoke his beeves to climb, without goading, the most rasping hill, or to cross without wincing the most intimidating ditch. The friends of the lowing family might take a hint from his ingenuity and try similar experiments under similar difficulties.

Five years of a laborious life were thus spent in the backwoods. William Ormiston was strong, willing, and popular. Moreover, he fulfilled his duties with cheerfulness even while he looked unfalteringly to a career beyond those duties. Gradually his tastes and his pursuits fell away from one another; duty and happiness played at cross purposes, for while the former found an outlet in manual labor, the latter was gratified by mental toil. To soothe his intellectual longings he scoured tho country for books. He collected what he could, and he read all that he collected. They were a miscellaneous assortment—including the works of the puritan divines, some of the standard poets, old English ballads, Scottish tales, the Arabian Nights, Robinson Crusoe, the charming fictions of the author of Waverley, and the sublime truths of the sacred Scriptures. The list included food for the mind, and fancy for the[Pg 105] imagination, and if the prose was somewhat severe, the poetry was decidedly delicious. Altogether it was a promising medley, which needed but a little animating yeast, or a few grains of manly resolve, or perhaps something still better and holier to set it rising. That something had been working for years. Before he saw the light it had been the subject of his mother’s humble prayer, that a son might be born to her who should some day be a minister of the Gospel. During his childhood, the privation and self-denial were not pain which enabled his parents to give their son a mental outfit which should qualify him for the duties they desired he should discharge. At length their wishes and his met together. He communicated to them his intention to obtain if he could a liberal education, and devote himself eventually to the work of the ministry. Their pride in his choice was shewn in the desire of his father to sell a portion of his farm to defray the charges of his education, while the independent and self-reliant character of the son were manifested in his resolute refusal to accept any pecuniary assistance whatever. Thus with a light heart, and a still lighter pocket, for he did not possess a solitary coin, William Ormiston left his father’s house, richly freighted, as he is accustomed with becoming reverence to say, “with a loving mother’s blessing, and a pious father’s counsel.” He then began to study, and afterwards to teach, nor was it surprising that he at once made his mark as a teacher. Upon the strength of his improved circumstances, he bought a few new books, and some new clothes. The double investment, if it did not cause him to fall in love with himself, probably smoothed the way to his falling in love with somebody else. The experiment was followed with the success which seems to wait on all his proceedings for the somebody else, whether she asked papa or not we cannot say, agreed to become his wife, and live her life with him.

Divinity students must be irresistible people, for they generally win the wreath of love, before their lay rivals even think of asking[Pg 106] for a flower. It surprises no one, when a young man who has scarcely assumed the order of deacon, hastens to gratify the aspirations of some excellent young lady, who has become seriously excited on the subject of husbandry. Marriage with a quick step, too commonly follows ordination, and thus the clerical benedict finds himself called upon to give immature opinions on Tractarianism and teething, on the Colenso controversy and milk for babes; to say nothing of being occasionally compelled to write his sermons and rock the cradle at the same time.

In spite the bondage of his affections, William Ormiston did not miss his path or become oblivious to the goal he had set himself to reach. In the autumn of 1843, he went to Victoria College, Cobourg, whereof the Rev. Egerton Ryerson was the Principal. Thus a friendship commenced which, like good wine, has only grown better for growing older. The Principal, with characteristic discernment, observed the merits of his new pupil, and took measures to attach him to the College staff, and the pupil, seeing the advantage of the preferment, felt flattered as well as grateful for the selection. For two years as an undergraduate he held the office of tutor in English and mathematics, and for two more years in classics. In 1847, he took his B. A. degree, and was immediately appointed professor of moral philosophy and logic. The “chair” was no cushioned seat, nor did the duties with which it was associated permit repose. Besides the usual lectures which must have been a task of no ordinary kind for one so young, the new professor had classes in Greek and Hebrew. He was also obliged to find time to study theology, and pass quarterly examinations before the Presbytery. Neither was Sunday a day of rest to him, for during this period of his College life he preached once at least on each Lord’s day.

But through this ordeal of hard exacting work there ran a thread of tender sympathy, which, like a ray of silver light, shed beauty on success, and served to brighten toil by connecting early struggles[Pg 107] with future happiness. His hours of ease were few and far between, but when they arrived they were probably rendered pleasant with the memory of those days when he made his modest purchase of apparel, and the hope of those days when he should realize his dream of home. In 1848, he married, and we have no doubt that his real life, like the lives of other men, has neither been cloudless, nor free from crosses, for of his six children, three dwell with him, and three rest with God.

We do not know when or by whom he was ordained, but in 1849 he served a small congregation in the township of Clarke. At the same time, he was the teacher at a select private school as well as the superintendent of the public schools of the county of Durham. He also gave lectures on education; and a little later, in 1852, he itinerated through the Province discoursing on temperance, and kindred virtues; and a very earnest advocate the social improvement causes found in him. In the spring of 1853, he was appointed mathematical master and lecturer on natural science at the Normal School, Toronto, which situation he continued to fill for the space of eight years. Concurrently with such duties, he was for three years an examiner in the University of Toronto, and when a board was created to approve of candidates for masterships in grammar schools he was appointed a member of it. During the period we have referred to, he was beset with a prodigious appetite for work. Thus he visited every county in the province and lectured at mechanics institutes, or before library or other associations, on different subjects in almost every city, town and village of Upper Canada. On leaving the Normal School he was presented with a highly complimentary address, accompanied with valuable tokens of regard by the master and pupils of that school.

In 1857 he was invited to become, and he became, the minister of the Central Presbyterian Church at Hamilton. In the year 1860 the University of New York conferred on him the degree of D. D.[Pg 108] Furthermore we have learned from a friend of his, a gentleman of acute observation, and we may add a Senator of the Dominion, that he has not been allowed to remain where he is without some effort to attract him elsewhere. Other congregations have, it seems, coveted their neighbour’s minister, and have sought to beguile him with “a call” to more lucrative charges. But though such temptations have been presented in tones rich with persuasion, though they have come from England and the United States, as well as the gold-bearing countries of California and Australia, it is refreshing in these days of rapacity to find one who can listen to such syren-like voices without emotion, and who can find in the path of duty, and in the approval of conscience, a recompense whose value is “above rubies.” In 1862, and again in 1867, he took leave of absence, and his congregation to make such absence pleasant as well as invigorating, added a purse containing no inconsiderable sum. They were right as well as kind in doing so, for a holiday without a “tip” is at best but a seedy sort of affair. He lost no time in dropping his cash over the continent of Europe, and of spending some of it in the British Islands. He visited old scenes as well as new countries, probably including among the former, the hill of Tinto, Habbies How, and the Nine-mile-Burn, where we have no doubt he still declined the tempting “gill.”

Besides sermons and lectures, for in respect of preaching his excursion was a doubtful holiday, he gave his countrymen at Edinburgh a glimpse of his opinions in the shape of a speech. While it may be read as a specimen of his style, it is deserving attention for the lesson it teaches. We may mention that the speech from which we have made our extracts was delivered at the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland at Edinburgh, in May, 1862. The Canada Presbyterian Church, which was formed by the union of the Free and United Presbyterian Churches was then scarcely a year old. The explanation is necessary if we would understand some of the points in Mr. Ormiston’s speech. Let us listen:

[Pg 109]

“Our union enables us to economise both men and means in Canada, and that is a great advantage; for we are practical men out yonder. We economise all the active energies of the Church, which before were not unfrequently distracted and dissipated by divided counsels and multiplied agencies. As an illustration, conceive to yourselves, in some new, sparsely settled locality, each of the three Presbyterian churches endeavouring to uphold a feeble, flickering cause, mutually jealous of each other, the adherents of each saying ‘there's nae minister like our ain minister'—the others not having the proper twang, thump, or nod, or other orthodox peculiarity—all displaying quite as much jealous rivalry as could be called Christian competition. As a proof of this, I might adduce the influence of previous habits and associations on our church architecture, which is frequently marred, I might say murdered, by slavish imitations of certain old, cramped, cantankerous, purgatorial churches in Scotland.

“In thus economising the labour, properly expending the liberalities, and in concentrating and directing the efforts of the church—we are the better able, undistracted by differences, and not weakened by multiplied agencies, to go forth to the accomplishment of the work given us by the Head of the Church to achieve the work of service required at our hands.

“About one-fourth of the population of Canada may be said to be under our care and influence, and that is saying much; when, as you have heard, there are men there of every creed, and I will add, of no creed at all. I believe the church of which I am a minister is destined to exert a mighty moulding influence upon the forming institutions of that new country. The members of our church are wielding a large share of the political, literary and moral power in the colony, and I can say without any disparagement to other respected sections of the Christian church, that, if faithfully worked and adapted to the exigencies of the people, the Presbyterian church will exert a controlling influence over the intellectual, moral and religious character of the Province. The class of Scotch emigrants who have settled there, if not the aged, pious, contented, or wealthy of your land, neither are they by any means the lowest or least instructed among you, most of them being young, vigorous, ambitious, energetic, determined men—men who can and who do think for themselves, and who require good mental pabulum; hence the necessity of sending out as their pastors ministers who can feed and satisfy them. Men who can do that were always welcome and will be welcome still.

“We do not want those who require to be prayed with and entreated to come—and to be bolstered up after they do come—men who love their own land too well to leave it behind, and who, wherever they go, carry it with them; nor timid men who are ever seeing lions in the way, and there are scores of them yonder. But they whom the Church wishes to see in her midst are men with the grace of God in their souls, the love of souls in their heart, their lives in their hand, and whose tongues can speak at both ends ‘aye ready’—men whose energies are exhaustless and whose minds are unwearied—a band of men of the type of the Moderator. (Dr. Candlish, of Edinburgh, was in the chair.)[Pg 110] Clear-headed, large-hearted, heroic men will be gladly welcomed, and will accomplish an inconceivable amount of good. But there is a class of men who are not really needed—I mean those who cannot get on at home; and I will just state, but will speak it in a whisper lest it hurt any one, that if probationers have been long on the list they had better not come at all, because the Canadians smell them from afar and suspect the fact without being told. What we want are real and true men, men of zeal and prudence and pulpit power; and if such men come, their Canadian brethren will not only welcome them, as has been said, to their harvests, but to their hearts, homes and pulpits, and will share with them their last loaf.

Mr. Ormiston, we have reason to think, is an effective preacher. His style seems to be terse, vigorous and occasionally epigrammatic; sometimes as sharp as a needle, at others as hard as a nut, and then again as fanciful and feather-like as thistledown. His views seem to be a Canadian modification of the Scottish original. Though not less a Presbyterian, he seems to be less in bondage to prejudice than some of his “cramped and cantankerous” brethren at the north of the Tweed. In civil as well as in ecclesiastical affairs, he is a liberal, with the tendency to illiberality which is so frequently characteristic of the Scotch type of thought. At his ordination he joined what was termed the United Secession branch of the Presbyterian Church, so called from being formed by the union of numerous bodies of seceders which had arisen in the Scotch Church between 1712 when the act of patronage was passed, and 1820 when they joined one another under the name of the United Secession Church. In 1847 a further fusion was made by the union of the Secession and the Relief churches. The new partnership became known as the United Presbyterian Church, which in Canada, in 1861, became incorporated with the Free Church under the name of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, a church of which Mr. Ormiston is a prominent minister. From first to last he has been a “voluntary” and consequently a steady opponent of patronage and the rights of patrons. He worked hard to secure the secularization of the Clergy Reserves, and he succeeded. Old fashioned Anglicans, while they deny not the credit[Pg 111] which is due to success, prefer to take their chance with those who failed.

“The lines are fallen to us in pleasant places; yea, we have a goodly heritage” were the words of a text chosen by Mr. Ormiston for a thanksgiving day sermon on the 4th December, 1862. In reading that discourse and in following the preacher through passages bright with the combined lights of patriotism and religion, we linger and in the spirit of speculation inquire what the difference might have been had those pleasant lines been crossed with strife, or that goodly heritage disturbed by persecution. Had the preacher, like Knox, fallen on an age of violence, would he, like him, have been as inflexible in asserting what he believed to be true and in upholding what he felt to be right. Would he, like the men of ancient days, like the martyr of Ormiston, unflinchingly and without compromise, have defended both to the death? It is not for us to know how any man would act under trial, and yet there are men whose characters correspond with their appearance: in whose countenances no vein of vacillation can be discovered; whose faces are mapped with every line but the line of weakness, and traced with every hieroglyphic but such as are wavy with fear; whose very hair is crisp with power, as if it were dressed with the essential oil of electricity. We have not had the advantage of meeting with the gentleman whose portrait prefaces this sketch, but physiognomy we incline to think must be only an indifferent teacher if the Wallace-like resolve to “do or die” be not as deeply ingrained in his character as it seems to be legibly chiselled on his brow.

[Pg 113]



It is about thirty years since the writer accompanied a friend to what he called “our club.” The club alluded to was a very unpretentious association in itself, but very popular in its objects; for it was a literary and debating society, where young men were encouraged to think and required to speak. The room in which the club meetings were held was situated at the westerly end of King Street, Toronto, in the upper part of a building at that time occupied by Mr. Henry Rowsell, the well-known bookseller of that city. The room was small enough and shabby enough; for it derived no dignity from its furniture. The floor had no carpet, the windows no curtains, and the seats no cushions. The President’s chair was an unadorned specimen of elementary cabinet work, remarkable only for its apparent strength and its actual ugliness.

The club consisted, for the most part, of law students, young men who were attracted towards each other by college recollections or social ties, and who had, on that account, acquired the habit of speaking of and to one another in those familiar terms of intimacy which near relations commonly employ. In answer to enquiries, we learned that the chairman for the occasion—a tall fellow with a manly vigorous frame, and a handsome mischievous face, whose cheerful thoughts looked out of eyes that dilated and flashed in their hemisphere of smiles, like throbbing[Pg 114] stars on a frosty night, was “Tom Galt.” Another member, equally tall, but apparently less robust, with an oval face, and delicately cut features, as if they had been chiselled by a dainty hand, after a Grecian model, was “John Hagarty.” A third, whose Scottish parentage was written conspicuously in his face, and whose Scottish pride, according to phrenological theories, rose Ben-Nevis like from the crown of his head, was “John Hillyard Cameron.” A fourth, who differed from all in the quiet thoughtfulness of his manner, was—alas! that we are obliged to write and think of him in the past tense now—“Fergusson Blair,” the eldest son of the “Laird of Woodhill;” and a fifth, who was a small, compact well-knit, soldierly stripling, in a rifle uniform, was “George Denison,” about the best drill, we were told, in Colonel FitzGibbon’s volunteer rifle company.

We do not remember the question before the club on that particular evening; we only recollect that, like Mercurius, Mr. Cameron was the chief speaker and leader of the debate on one side, and that Mr. Hagarty was the leader on the other. The former spoke with such exact verbal accuracy as to suggest the idea that the speech had previously been committed to memory. Each syllable seemed to have been critically inspected, and each word separately passed for service. Thus his speech sounded like a carefully prepared college recitation, and it was delivered somewhat in the way a military chaplain delivers his sermon; with a soldierly intonation and an adjutant’s emphasis, for it seemed to be controlled by considerations which were sounding, as well as precise. His thoughts were apparently massed with care, and were certainly moved with adroitness, sometimes with caution, but generally with celerity. Words assorted themselves into sentences, and then with a free and unembarrassed air, stepped together, so to speak, as if they heard the “Pipers” in the distance, and desired to emulate the march of the “Cameron men.” The speech was answered by Mr. Hagarty in those quiet, seductive tones which refined art[Pg 115] knows how to employ. There was neither hesitancy nor hindrance in the flow of his words, and while occupied in following his argument the listener was charmed with the subtlety and tenderness of a voice which was light and clear as filtered water, and fell soothingly on the ear like rain in summer. In the fulness as well as in the fluency of his reply, Mr. Cameron, even at that early day, afforded abundant proof of his great abilities. The idea of his opening speech being written and committed to memory was dismissed at once, and consigned to the grave where common errors and unjust suspicions lie and perish. His command of manly and felicitous language was sufficiently apparent; for his words were invariably well chosen, and his sentences as invariably constructed without crevice or flaw. The composed, unimpassioned, argumentative style in which he speaks now, was observable then. It is a style suited to his cast of thought; for his sympathies must be searched for in the higher intellectual latitudes where reason reigns, and not in the common shallows where folly revels.

Mr. Cameron is the son of Mr. Angus Cameron, who was latterly paymaster of the Royal Canadian Rifles, and formerly an officer of the 79th or Cameron Highlanders. He is descended from the Camerons of Glenevis, in the Lochaber country, and we have little doubt that he possesses a tolerably exact knowledge of the history of his heroic clan. Though a Scotsman by descent, Mr. Cameron is a Frenchman by birth, for he was born at Beaucaire in Languedoc, on the 14th of April, 1817, during the time when the allied armies occupied France. In 1825, his father’s regiment, the 79th, was ordered to Canada, and in 1831, it was stationed at Toronto, when the subject of this sketch was sent to Upper Canada College. On leaving college, where he greatly distinguished himself and won many of its highest honors, he was articled, firstly, to the Honorable Henry John Boulton, a barrister of acute intelligence, and at that day second to none at the Upper Canada bar as a special pleader; and secondly, to Mr. Vice Chancellor Spragge. During the currency[Pg 116] of his indentures the rebellion broke out, and he served for six months with the rank of captain in the Queen’s Rangers under the command of Lt.-Colonel Samuel Peters Jarvis.

On the 7th of August, 1838, he was admitted to practice as an attorney and solicitor; and in the Michaelmas term following he was called to the bar. In the same year he formed a partnership with Mr. Spragge. The firm, as we have reason to believe, commanded a very lucrative business, Mr. Cameron winning his place at once in the foremost rank of counsel. In 1843, he was appointed Reporter to the Court of Queen’s Bench, and in 1844, he published “the Rules of Court and Statutes relating to the practice and pleading in the Court of Queen’s Bench, Upper Canada, together with the criminal and other acts of general reference and a few practical points.” In 1845, he published a work known as Cameron’s Rules, entitled “Reports of cases determined in the Queen’s Bench and Practice Courts in U. C., from 7th to 8th Victoria.” In 1846 he retired from the office of Reporter to the Court of Queen’s Bench, and commenced the publication of the reports, which, since then, have been regularly carried on by his successors in office. In the last mentioned year he was created a Queen’s Counsel, and though we anticipate our narrative, we may here mention that on the death of Sir J. B. Macaulay, he was elected treasurer of the Law Society—an office which he still retains.

At the general elections in 1844, he was returned as member for the town of Cornwall. On the 1st July, 1846, he was appointed Solicitor General, and on the 22nd of May following he was preferred to a seat in the Executive Council, a compliment the more marked since no such honor, we believe, had previously been conferred upon a Solicitor General. At the election in 1848, he was again returned for Cornwall, retaining his former position in the cabinet. Those elections, however, resulted adversely to the conservative party; for on Parliament meeting soon afterwards, a vote of want of confidence was passed which led to the resignation of[Pg 117] the administration, to the formation of the Lafontaine-Baldwin government and to the eventual demoralization and overthrow of what remained of the Tory party of Canada.

Mr. Cameron did not offer himself as a candidate at the elections which took place in 1851, but, at those consequent on the dissolution of Parliament by His Excellency the Earl of Elgin, in 1854, he was returned with Mr. Bowes as one of the two members for the city of Toronto. The defeat of the Hincks-Morin administration in 1854 led to a coalition of the conservative and moderate section of the reform parties of Upper Canada with the Lafontaine party of Lower Canada. On this administration, subsequently known as the MacNab-Taché government, the duty devolved of settling the Clergy Reserve and Seigniorial Tenure difficulties. With respect to the former, Mr. Cameron did not vote on the motion for the second reading of the bill. It is probable that he was not present on the occasion; and from the opinions which he was supposed to hold on the sacredness of Church property, we may conjecture that such absence was not attended with any poignant grief to him. At a subsequent stage of the proceedings, on the motion for secularizing those reserves and distributing the proceeds among the municipalities, we find him on every division voting an emphatic “nay.” Later still we find him by his vote exhibiting an apparent willingness to acquiesce in a moderate form of compromise. For example, he voted “yea” to the proposition to apply the moneys realized from the sale of such lands to the promotion of religion and education; but although such a qualified compromise may have cost him a twinge, it produced no such effect on the majority of the members, for it was voted down by the House. Whereupon Mr. Cameron contented himself with putting on record, in the form of a motion, the principles on which he was willing to settle the question. The motion being lost on a division, Mr. Cameron seems to have turned away from further discussion, and to have declined all further responsibility, for his[Pg 118] name is not found in the divisions which subsequently took place. Having quieted his conscience and preserved his consistency by the course which duty prompted him to take, it is probable that Mr. Cameron, in common with the remnant then left of the old church and state party, were of opinion that the question could not be fought with safety much longer, and that in the interests of their church it was best to capitulate, and especially as the terms they were then able to make were more favorable than any which they might expect to obtain at a later day. The bill was passed, and Mr. Cameron very zealously co-operated with the late Bishop of Toronto and others in making its provisions as advantageous as possible to the permanent interests of the church.

In 1856 Mr. Cameron introduced a bill to enable members of the united Church of England and Ireland to meet in Synod. This particular bill was withdrawn to facilitate the passing of another bill with the same title and object which had been introduced in the Legislative Council by the Honorable Mr. de Blaquière. The measure was one of great importance, and the practical operation of it has given rise to emotions which are by no means free from anxieties. There can be no doubt that very grave duties have devolved on the members of the Anglican Church in Canada; but the question often arises whether such duties could not be discharged in a less questionable, and, may we not add, in a more scriptural manner than has hitherto seemed practicable: whether they could not be conducted with less preliminary canvass and more trust in the Divine direction, with less strife and more prayer. The mode, for example, in which bishops are chosen, seems to be deficient in reverence. It does not, as it seems to us, resemble, as nearly as it might resemble, that first recorded election of a bishop, when St. Matthias was chosen in the place of him “who by transgression fell.” Mr. Cameron, as a learned, eloquent, and influential layman, might, we venture to suggest, in conjunction with the fathers, elders, and brethren of the church, do much good in the[Pg 119] respective Diocesan Synods, as well as in the Provincial Synod, if he were to propose a more devout, and as we believe, a more satisfactory system of procedure.

In 1856, on the second reading of the Bill for rendering the Legislative Council elective, the division list presents one curious feature of agreement, for Mr. Cameron’s name occurs with the name of the Honorable George Brown, in the list of “nays.” Being caught together in the same lobby should have been, perhaps it was, the occasion of a merry jest. In the same session a good deal of feeling was manifested, and with reason, in respect of the alleged failure of justice in the trial of those who were charged with the murder of a man named Corrigan in the parish of St. Sylvester. Mr. Cameron moved for a copy of the judge’s charges to the jury on the occasion of the trial, which after warm debate and a close division was agreed to. Three days afterwards a motion was made by Mr. Attorney General Drummond to rescind the resolution for the address as well as the order for presenting it; but the motion was superseded by the intervention of “the previous question.” On the following day a message was sent to the Assembly by the Governor General, wherein His Excellency declined to accede to the prayer of the address. Subsequently, on the motion of Mr. J. C. Morison, a select committee, which included in its number the name of Mr. Cameron, was appointed to investigate the matter. These proceedings on the part of Mr. Cameron, apart from their real merit, won for him the sympathies of the Protestant population of the province and the especial admiration of the Orange Society, of which he then became a member and of which in 1859 he was chosen the Grand Master, an honor that probably increased his political at the expense of his personal influence. Many of his warmest friends experienced a feeling of unalloyed regret when they saw him in a position which added nothing to his fame as a politician, and, on the whole, seemed to be rather hurtful than otherwise to his party. However, the step was not without some[Pg 120] compensating advantage, for in the following year, on the occasion of the visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, Mr. Cameron, as Grand Master, was able to exert a wise and temperate influence in the Orange Society, and thus prevent at Toronto a recurrence of the proceedings which had proved so mischievous at Kingston.

In 1858 he opposed the re-election of Mr. Brown for Toronto, when the latter undertook with Mr. Dorion the duty of forming an administration. The contest was a very severe one, but it ended in the triumph of Mr. Brown. In 1861 Mr. Cameron was returned for the county of Peel, for which county he has subsequently been twice re-elected and now continues to sit.

On all questions that affect the sacredness of property set apart for religious uses, Mr. Cameron is accustomed to think seriously and to speak warmly. Thus with respect to the University of King’s College, as with the Clergy Reserves, his course was clear and consistent. In both cases he was strongly opposed to the alienation of property from the uses to which it had originally been set apart. Thus on the 18th of March, 1845, being a member of the House of Assembly, he was heard as counsel at the bar against the second reading of the Bill for the abolition of King’s College, and for erecting in its place a university under the name of the University of Toronto. People, at the time, were too pleasantly occupied with a question of casuistry, to pay unreserved attention to Mr. Cameron. They were assiduously weighing the merits of Mr. Draper’s eloquent speech for the new Bill against his more eloquent speech against it two years before, and this ordeal of moral and political analysis disqualified them from doing strict justice to Mr. Cameron’s powerful appeal. Though it may not have changed a vote, the speech was probably instrumental in staying for a time at least, the impending fate of the college. Four years afterwards, during the Lafontaine-Baldwin administration, it was laid “even with the ground,” its name was abolished, and its primary purpose as a theological[Pg 121] seminary for the education of youth for holy orders in the Church of England and Ireland, was utterly and entirely abolished. The bill became law, which the members of the Anglican communion, as loyal subjects, were bound to obey, though they were not required to like. To inquire into what was amiss, and recover what was lost, they assembled, under the guidance of their chief pastor, the Venerable Bishop of Toronto, and having taken counsel together, they determined by private effort to repair the injury which had been publicly inflicted on them with the concurrence of the Legislature.

On the 25th of July following, Mr. Cameron presented a bill to incorporate Trinity College. The Bill was merely introduced and laid on the table. This initiatory proceeding was probably necessary since it served as a basis for subsequent operations. The Bishop of Toronto went to England to awaken the sympathy of friends in the mother country, and especially to obtain from Her Most Gracious Majesty a royal charter for the college he sought to establish. In the meanwhile, those members of the church in Canada who were favorable to the object, bestirred themselves, and according to the measure of their ability sought to help the Bishop here, in the work he was prosecuting there. Speaking at a public meeting, and referring to the Bishop’s pastoral, Mr. Cameron is reported to have said:—

“He felt that the language used in that document would be admitted by all who read it to be literally and strictly applicable—that it was indeed a feeling and a powerful appeal. It was, unhappily, not more powerful than the circumstances to which it referred were deplorable and unprecedented.

“Not contented with depriving the Church of England of her interest in a Royal endowment, as if the gift of a King were unworthy the respect accorded to that of any private citizen, her enemies had consummated their injustice by taking away the very charter of her University also. Churchmen might, perhaps, had that been left them, have felt less cause of complaint; for there was Christian piety and liberality enough in the body to furnish, if needful, another endowment; but it was hard that the result of years of toil and wisdom should be swept away in a moment, and the Church be reduced to the necessity of re-constructing from the foundation, all of which they had witnessed the growth, and hoped, with God’s[Pg 122] blessing, to see the fruit also. ‘Down with it!—Down with it, even to the ground!’ is the cry of those who would see the Church abolished, that the restraints of religion might be abolished also; of those who would see the altar overthrown, because of the glory that burns upon it, and the temple destroyed, because of the voice of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, that is heard within its walls.... He felt that it was high time for the true sons of the Church to put forth their strength, and to show to their rulers that the rights of 200,000 people were not to be trampled on with impunity. The University had been liberalized, but that was not enough.... The Legislature had changed the character of the University—the fiat had gone forth, and the law must be obeyed; but could not the Church of England build and uphold a college of her own in Upper Canada, through the piety and munificence of her children? If the Roman Catholic and the Presbyterian and the Methodist, had each a seat of learning, could the Church of England fail to establish a University which should extend the blessing of a sound religious education to the remotest posterity, and out of the evil of crafty and designing men create permanent and abiding good? Education should never be separated from religion; and yet the whole system in Canada was founded upon that separation, as if the thought of prayer and praise were never to weigh with the aspirations for intellectual cultivation, and the deadening of the heart to every Christian feeling and duty, were the highest object of legislation in a still professedly Christian land. It had been said, that the attention of Churchmen should first be turned to the Common Schools—that there should the purification be commenced; but how was such a change to be effected until the lawgivers of the Province were brought to acknowledge that secular and religious instruction should go hand in hand? He thought that we were beginning in the proper place. Let a University be established—let the youth of the Church be educated there—and they will go forth to their various avocations, throughout the length and breadth of the land, strong in faith, and in the belief of the purity of the doctrines of their Church; and through them the people will learn and appreciate the blessings of religious education.

“It was but a small thing that each was called upon to do; but how much good would the aggregate effect, and a feeling would be aroused in the Province that would awake the hearts of those who had been slumbering for years, and show to the Christians of every other denomination that the members of the Church of England were no longer supine, but with the aid of the Divine Power were determined to labor unceasingly to obtain sound religious instruction for their children and their children’s children.”

On the 9th of June, 1851, Sir Allan Napier MacNab as the leader of the conservative party, introduced a new bill to incorporate Trinity College, which was warmly supported by Mr. Cameron, who had presented a similar measure in the previous session. This[Pg 123] bill received the royal assent on the 15th of the following month. On the 17th of March, 1851, the first sod was dug towards the foundation of the college. On the 30th April following, the corner stone of the new building was laid with becoming ceremony, on which occasion the young rifleman of “our club,” Major, now Colonel G. T. Denison, acted as marshal. On the 15th January, 1852, the college, with great solemnity, was opened for work, when two other members of “our club” were thus bracketed together among the enrolled officers of the college.


J. H. Hagarty, Esq., Q. C.
The Hon. J. H. Cameron, Q. C.
P. M. Vankoughnet, Esq., Q. C.


In 1854, Mr. Cameron received from Trinity College the honorary degree of D. C. L., and at about the same time he founded the “Cameron Scholarship” for the special benefit of the sons of clergymen seeking a university education. We cannot pretend to enumerate, nor would it be agreeable to Mr. Cameron that we should do so, the services which he has steadily rendered to this important university. He has watched its interests, worked for its advancement, and associated himself with its fortunes with all the fervor of his first love. Neither has he for one moment lost heart or hope in its permanent success. When its first Chancellor, the Honorable Sir John Beverly Robinson, departed this life, the mantle which he had dignified and worn so gracefully, appeared to fall naturally on Mr. Cameron, who was duly installed in the high office of Chancellor, on the 17th January, 1864, when he thus addressed the convocation:

Mr. Vice Chancellor, I feel deeply the congratulatory remarks you have addressed to me, as I felt deeply the confidence reposed in me by the Corporation of Trinity, when they conferred upon me the honor of Chancellorship. You have well dissected the character of the late Chancellor. In every relation in life he stood pre-eminent, and, to those, who like myself, for upwards of twenty years enjoyed[Pg 124] the privilege of close communion with him, as their chief, there is no power in language to portray their high estimate of his ability. His sweetness of temper, his gentleness of manner, his courtesy, were proverbial, and in the long roll on which this University shall write the names of her future Chancellors, no name will ever be found of brighter lustre than the first. It is now upwards of twenty years since the venerable prelate at my side, on the opening of King’s College, congratulated himself that he had lived to see the work of forty years accomplished. But clouds were already rising in the distance to obscure the glorious prospect, and a storm soon burst upon him, which swept that inheritance of the Church away forever. Did our noble bishop despond when he saw his cherished hopes in the dust? Did he give up his efforts to establish a Church University, because that endowment was taken away? No, with the energy and determination which have ever marked his character through his long life, he resolved at three-score years and ten to buckle on his armour again, and in conjunction with our late Chancellor, those two great men, reflecting back light and lustre, each upon the other, Churchmen in Canada and in the Mother Country contributed of their means, a Royal Charter was obtained, and the University of Trinity College arose from the ashes of Kings.... As Chancellor of this University, I shall endeavor, faithfully, to fulfil my duty to it by doing all in my power to uphold the views which I have expressed, and I shall expect that each and all of those who hold office in it, or claim, or hope to claim it as their Alma Mater, shall bear their part both at home and abroad, within the walls of the College, and without in the world, to establish Toronto as


In and out of office Mr. Cameron has stood firmly by his principles, and has given a general support to his party. Apart, however, from such considerations, his great abilities have freely been placed at the disposal of the Legislature. Members of Parliament, on both sides of the House, who are most conversant with public affairs, have frequently expressed their sense of his manifold services in the work of legislation irrespective of the source, or the side of the House, whence good measures have proceeded. Canada has no rewards for her statesmen, and few if any, worthy of the acceptance of her great lawyers. A judgeship has, on more than one occasion, it is said, been placed at Mr. Cameron’s disposal, but he has had the wisdom to decline a retreat which would add little to his consideration, nothing to his ease, and less than nothing to his income, for the bar in Canada affords better remuneration and greater freedom than the bench, to such as are qualified to wear the ermine.

[Pg 125]



Crest. Out of a ducal coronet, or, an oak tree, fructed and penetrated transversely in the main stem by a frame saw, proper, the frame of the first. Motto Through.

The above peculiar and instructive crest is borne by the Ducal house of Hamilton, and by several of the untitled families of the name in other parts of the United Kingdom. We do not know the history of the crest, or under what circumstances it was acquired. It may have been appointed to illustrate a particular fact or perhaps to indicate a general virtue. In either case the design is sufficiently suggestive, for it warrants the assumption that amongst other qualities the person to whom it was at first applied was, to use the more ancient form of the word “thorough” and resolute, as enduring as an oak, and as tenacious as steel. Besides the poetical fitness of this illustrative crest, there may have been, for philosophers have a knack of peering into futurity, a glimmering idea that the picturesque design might, in time to come, acquire prosaic fitness, and that such fitness would be illustrated after a fashion undreamt of by the knights of old. The tree in the coronet, and the saw in the tree thus became typical of family interests in reversion which could scarcely have been imagined when the crest was sketched, for the masters of war did not then foresee the triumphs of peace. It needed the penetration of a sharp set seer, or the gift of second sight, to overtake the period when the grand seigneurs of commerce[Pg 126] would exceed in the number of their feudatories some of the great chieftains of those lawless days; when the retainers of industry would be counted by the thousand, and wrought too of such stuff as a hero might envy and a general would gladly choose for perilous adventures. But the organized vassals of trade though well enough adapted for war, are not now enrolled for the hurt of their species. On the contrary, they are, in the new world at least, the avant couriers of civilization and settlement, banded together for the purpose of subduing forests, unknown when the symbolic oak was placed in the coronet, and by means of implements little thought of when the little fretwork saw was drawn transversely across its trunk. Go into that gas-lighted pandemonium, the Hawkesbury Mills, and witness the machinery in motion; look at the saws in all their diversity of shapes, and all their peculiarity of service; look at them! the horizontal and the circular, the inclined and the perpendicular, the independent and the enclosed, the rippers and the rotaries of modern invention in all the agony of violent exercise. Even when fettered and motionless they gleam brightly enough to appal, for they look so cold, cruel and relentless. But see them at work, look at those monsters with their heads in the roof and their feet in the pit, with great intimidating teeth like the fangs of a dragon in the jaws of a whale,—teeth up and down, teeth all round, teeth “to the right of you,” teeth “to the left of you,” shimmering like light, and hissing and shrieking like fiends in a rage. Look at them, and then look at the meek little irritant in the crest, and wonder that such a diminutive ancestor should have been parent of such an array of terrible descendants.

The family to which the subject of this sketch belongs is of Scottish origin, for Hugh Hamilton, who settled in Ireland in 1616, was a younger son of Sir James Hamilton of Evandale in the kingdom of Scotland. On referring to “Burke’s History of the Landed Gentry” we learn that Charles Hamilton, a descendant of the last mentioned[Pg 127] Hugh, in addition to other properties, became possessed of the estates of Hamwood in the County of Meath, and that he married Elizabeth, a daughter of Crewe Chetwood Esq., of Woodbrook in the Queen’s County. There were several children, issue of this marriage, including a third son, George, who emigrated to Canada and married a Miss Lucy Craigie. He lived occasionally at Quebec, but his latest and best known residence was at Hawkesbury. The third son of this marriage is the Honorable John Hamilton, of Evandale House, Hawkesbury, so named after the ancestral place in Scotland; his elder and younger surviving brothers being Mr. Robert Hamilton, the proprietor of Hamwood, a charming residence near Quebec, so named after the Irish estate owned by his grandfather, and the Rev. Charles Hamilton, a graduate of Oxford, and now doing clerical duty at that quiet and attractive place of worship, the free chapel of St. Matthews, Quebec.

Mr. George Hamilton, the first settler of the family in Canada, was, as we conjecture, a gentleman of no ordinary worth, and more than ordinary force of character. His social influence was considerable and his commercial transactions were extensive. Though the duties which his position imposed on him were of an exacting kind they did not in his opinion absolve him, as in too many cases they seem to do others, from the obligation to serve the state to the best of his ability. It is therefore no matter for surprise that he lived in the esteem and goodwill of his neighbors, or that he died amidst their regrets; for faith, truth and charity, were, we may say it without exaggeration, conspicuous in every act of his useful life. In his address to the grand jury of L’Orignal, the late Chief Justice, Sir John Beverly Robinson, when speaking of Mr. Hamilton’s death, which occurred in 1839, thus referred to his life and services:

“Mr. Hamilton was a native of the County of Meath, in Ireland, where he was born on the 13th of April, 1781. He emigrated to Canada at an early age, and after a long sojourn at Quebec, where he was extensively engaged in business for several years, he retired from that city, and took up his permanent residence on[Pg 128] his extensive property in Hawkesbury, in the year 1811; and has, with a few slight intervals, remained there until his death. His talents and acquirements became early known to the government, and on a formation of the district of Ottawa, in the year 1816, he was appointed to the judgeship of the District Court, an office which he continued to discharge with exemplary integrity and correctness during the rest of his life.

“He was also for many years chairman of the Quarter Session, and contributed greatly, by his energy and strict enforcement of the laws, to create and maintain the high degree of social order and quietness for which the Ottawa district has been so long favorably conspicuous. He held also several other honorable and confidential situations under the government, the duties of which he invariably fulfilled with distinguished fidelity and judgment. His political predilections were rigidly conservative, though far removed from sycophancy and subserviency; and although compelled by the circumstances of the times to assume the chieftainship of his party, his unflinching firmness and the caustic severity of his eloquence were at all times agreeably relieved and modified by the suavity of his demeanor and the generosity of his conduct. He was repeatedly invited by the local government to accept a seat in the Legislative Council, but he invariably declined the proposed honor, on the patriotic ground that he could be of much greater service to the government by watching over its interests at home. As lieutenant-colonel Militia, he had been ordered to superintend the formation of several reserve of companies for possible active service against the American brigands, and to inspect occasionally their state of organization and discipline. On the fourth day of December, 1838, he travelled for this purpose to Plantagenet, where he inspected and reviewed the reserve Company of that township, commanded by Captain Kearnes. The weather was intensely cold and stormy, and it was while reading the general orders to the men, and addressing them at length upon the occasion, that the first symptoms of his illness manifested themselves. These were still further increased on his journey home, where he arrived at night, almost dying with cold and exhaustion; and, notwithstanding the instantly applied, and unremittingly continued cares and assistance of several medical gentlemen, of high standing, he languished until the 7th of January, 1839, when death relieved him from his sufferings.

Burke informs us that the Hon. John Hamilton of Hawkesbury, the third son of the last mentioned, was born in 1827, and Mr. Morgan in his useful Canadian Parliamentary Companion for 1867 supplements the information by adding that the event took place in the vicinity of Quebec. He was educated at Montreal, but we are not informed at what school, neither do we know whether the racy manliness of his character shewed itself playfully in any of[Pg 129] those forms of mischief to which vigorous youths are prone. On leaving school he identified himself with the fortunes of his family, and as the fourth of his name, he furnished another Canadian illustration of the symbolic crest. Young as he then was he lost no time in entering into partnership with Mr. Charles Low, and on the decease of that gentleman he continued his transactions in timber as one of the firm of Hamilton Brothers. He succeeded his father as the chief inhabitant of Hawkesbury and resident partner in charge of the Hawkesbury Mills, which, we may add, were founded in the early part of the century, and have continued to be the property of the family for about sixty years. The houses and tenements of the persons employed in and about the mills are necessarily very numerous. The mills themselves are, as we learn, among the finest and most perfect in the country. They are lighted with gas, manufactured on the premises, and are in all respects as complete in their arrangements as art and money can make them. The country through which the rivers Rouge, Gatineau and DuMoine flow is, in part, the timber preserve of the firm, where their operations are carried on; and the rivers we have mentioned are the streamways on which their forest crops are rafted to Hawkesbury. Those rivers fringe many of their farms, for besides being “merchant princes,” the “Hamiltons” are landlords with enviable rent rolls and numerous tenants. Their chief places of business are Hawkesbury, Ottawa, and New Liverpool opposite Quebec.

Being perhaps the most occupied as well as the most influential man in the locality, his friends and neighbors seem to have thought that, as they could add nothing to his honors, they would at all events add something to his duties; wherefore they elected him Reeve of the Municipality. Having addressed himself with his customary energy to his new functions, and as we suppose given satisfaction in his manner of discharging them, he was promoted from the degree of Reeve to that of Warden, in which character he was[Pg 130] three times elected for the united counties of Prescott and Russell. The Municipal Councils are the normal schools of the House of Commons, and as Mr. Hamilton became an adept in municipal affairs he was often asked, and as often declined to offer himself as a member of the Legislative Assembly.

In 1860, when it became the duty of the inhabitants of the Electoral Division of Inkerman to choose a member to represent them in the Legislative Council, their thoughts naturally turned to their chief man, the subject of this sketch. Now, though

To the Commons House he declined to go,
“The Lords” was a different place you know,

and Mr. Hamilton, therefore, accepted the candidature. The Division includes the Counties of Argenteuil, Ottawa, and Pontiac, territory enough for a principality. Therefore, to be returned for the Division represented, the operation of three single gentlemen being rolled into one, for the area which sent three members to the Legislative Assembly, returned only one to the Legislative Council, and that one the subject of this sketch.

If his constituents, the lumbermen of the Division, celebrated his election, with such cheers as they know how to give, then the three times three with “a tiger” to finish off with, must have been something to hear and something to remember if one might hope to survive the experiment. Since that day of popular triumph he has been honored with Her Majesty’s mandamus to continue to discharge for life, the duties which in the first instance were laid upon him by the free and independent electors of the Ottawa valley. Were Mr. Hamilton catechised as to his political tenets, we have some doubts as to the exactness of his answers. In any case whether precise or not, they would be frank, honest and outspoken. In times now past, when parties were separated by great questions, when the political landmarks were broad, well-set, and highly colored, then Mr. Hamilton was a conservative. Now, however, when almost all party lines are dyed with neutral tints, and smudged[Pg 131] and intermingled with one another, when great distinguishing questions have been got rid of, when a principle is scarcely looked upon as worth a contest, when Whigs and Tories, for the most part, seem to agree with radicals; and radicals find it difficult to agree among themselves; it is not easy for a spectator to indicate the party of a public man, or even for a public man to indicate his own party. Imperial and Provincial legislation have travelled on grades of similar inclination; for besides the local subjects which separated parties in Canada, there were questions connected with the politics of England which secured the suffrages of the conservatives in Canada to the corresponding party in the United Kingdom. To say nothing of ecclesiastical and educational questions, there were questions of political economy and identity of interests, that united the Imperial and Colonial representatives of the Tory party together in the bonds of a common policy. Duties on foreign corn or foreign timber, on one hand, and the free imports of Colonial coin and timber on the other, constituted a policy as profitable in itself as it was pleasantly conservative in its effects. But alas! with the reversal of that policy, as well as from other causes, the conservative party in Canada, as in England, seems to have wilted and fallen away, while its members in both countries are required to bear a good deal of banter as they fumble for new flags, and clamor for new cries. D’Israeli, according to Earl Granville, “has dished the Whigs,” what he has done with the Tories is a question which, happily for us, we are not required to answer. Mr. Hamilton must, we incline to think for the present at least, be politically lodged at “Doubting Castle,” a place neither uncongenial nor unfamiliar to the rising race of statesmen; gentlemen of cheerful temperament, loyal hearts, and hopeful dispositions who pleasantly philosophize on what their fathers were, but who neither know what they shall be, nor very accurately discern what they are. In the midst of such party disorganization, Mr. Hamilton is, with many others content, and very sensibly so, to remain in[Pg 132] chrysalis condition, and await the operation of nature or the influence of time before they plume themselves on the colors they have inherited or make any declaration of those which they mean to wear.

But while it may not be easy to indicate by a phrase the party to which Mr. Hamilton may be said to belong, or indeed to affirm that he belongs to any party at all, we may at least be sure of this, that the generosity of his character will be seen in the moderation of his conduct, and that such conduct win illustrate the quality of his crest and be Thorough to the last. Several circumstances meet in his history which concur in teaching one lesson and pointing one moral. His education and his business have necessarily brought him into intimate and familiar contact with both races. His place of abode is on an Island situated midway in the Ottawa River, the beautiful border stream between the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec, between English and French, between protestant and catholic Canada; a stream which separates and yet unites territories, peoples, and religions. This accident of residence has enabled him to observe both races at home, and each race under the influence of its civil and municipal, its social and sacred surroundings, with the various appliances which constitute the happiness of national and domestic life. The observation has probably enforced this important lesson, that all, irrespective of origin, creed or nationality, are his constituents as well as his neighbors: that they are so in the wide and catholic as well as in the exclusive and parliamentary sense, and as such in the eye of law, as in the mind of their representative, they are equally entitled to similar consideration, to analogous rights, and analogous privileges. Justice, in whatever form or in whatever language administered, knows no border distinctions, for, under all circumstances, and at all seasons, it should, and so far as Mr. Hamilton’s influence and power extend, we venture to believe it will be thoroughly fair and thoroughly impartial.

Like his brothers at Quebec, Mr. Hamilton is a member of the[Pg 133] Anglican Church, and in this respect the motto of the crest indicates not inaptly the way in which church principles are illustrated by them. “Thorough” is the fitting word here as elsewhere. The policy of convenience does not seem to be the “Hamilton” policy. In their interpretation of Christian duty they neither use divers weights nor divers measures. On the contrary, they act up to the honest man’s belief that plain words have plain meanings—meanings which for their parts they neither desire to weaken much less to mystify or explain away. It might be for the happiness of individuals as it would, we humbly think, be for the advantage of true religion, were members of the Church generally, to imitate Mr. Hamilton’s example, and we may be allowed to add, without being indicted for poaching on the preacher’s manor, to the extent of their means, to emulate his munificence.

[Pg 135]


It should be steadily borne in mind, that the “adventurers,” whether gentlemen or otherwise, who first colonized the northern part of America, represented the two typical branches of the human family which generally fought for, and alternately controlled, the affairs of Europe. The Latin and Teutonic races, as represented respectively by the powers of France and England, had been continually at strife. Though attracted by common interests, the two peoples, in their policy of colonization, had been impelled by different principles, and, as a matter of course, rewarded with different results. Government, being regarded as the expression of opinion, seemed to have assumed shapes congenial to the experience and tastes of the two races. Monarchy, for example, in the higher and more absolute form, is commonly regarded as the especial property of the Latin race; while monarchy in a limited or semi-republican form, is as commonly looked upon as the peculiar heritage of the Saxon race. The exaggeration of the form may become in one case rank despotism, or in the other rank democracy; but the parentage of the form, whether exaggerated or not, will most probably be found deeply seated in the manners and customs of the race in which it takes its rise.

By way of illustration, we may note the conditions under which the first emigrants from France and England, respectively, settled[Pg 136] in North America. The French colonists included in their ranks, though in an embryo form, those orders and degrees which have their springs in feudality, and which in their complete social organization are generally found in European communities. There were nobility and clergy as well as artizans and peasants, and each class seemed to fall into, though it did not always fit, the place it had been accustomed to fill. The sovereigns of France deputed their authority to some accredited representative, and thus the fabric of French society, in a modified form, was as complete, if not as stable, in New France, as it had been in the old land from which its name was derived. Could we have turned from the territories bathed by the St. Lawrence, to look at those whose shores frown defiance at the Atlantic, we might have seen a very different social and political picture. Massachusetts, for example, was, to a great extent, planted by disaffected emigrants from the British Islands; people who had wrongs to remember, and as they believed, injuries to avenge; people who were generally imbued with the principles of republicanism, and very commonly confessed their belief in the doctrine of human equality. Church and king, ecclesiastical establishments and royal authority were in their estimation obnoxious institutions, which they knew only to shun. Avoided at home, and uncared for abroad, those English settlers were left to themselves, to make their own laws, to fashion their own government, and to follow their own faith. Thus, with their recollection of oppression, their experience of hardship, and their dread of disaster, they set their faces like a flint against all gentle influences, and amidst neglect and obscurity, royal aversion and priestly contempt, they worked like men who had a mission to fulfil or a vow to perform. They studied in a rude way the science of human government, and they learned with severity, as if their knowledge had been tested with acids, how to rule themselves somewhat in accordance with the principles, if not in agreement with the habits, of their Saxon forefathers.

[Pg 137]

The lessons learned in the two schools of politics, very soon manifested themselves, when the scholars of those schools, in the shape of competitors, were brought face to face under the same government. The monarchical traditions of the French race showed themselves in the desire to be ruled by a nominated council. The republican instincts of the English race shewed themselves in the effort to secure what was termed a free parliament. One section wished to be governed by a board of selected notables; the other by an assembly of chosen representatives. Each race wished to strengthen its influence and dominate over the other; and both were then, and afterwards, consistent in choosing the means by which the end was to be gained. For it should not be forgotten that the laws of England, though shortly afterwards modified in their relation to Canada, at that time excluded Roman Catholics from sitting in parliament. Under such circumstances, a free parliament meant an assembly of members who were ignorant of the language, knew nothing of the laws, and abhorred the religion of their constituents. It was manifestly not for the advantage of the French population that the plan favored by the British race should be adopted. Hence, the former looked for security in a nominated council, because such council would include members of their own faith and race, while the latter saw their advantage in an elected assembly because by reason of prohibitory oaths and tests no member of such faith and race might sit as a representative in such chamber. To the amazement of the British race the Act imposing the oaths or tests above referred to, was repealed in so far as it related to Canada, and new lessons had to be learned. The tactics were changed. The combatants not only occupied each other’s ground, but they appropriated each other’s weapons, and one, at least, fought all the more successfully for the barter. The discipline of experience taught the British inhabitants of Lower Canada that their views could most effectually be advanced by nominated councils; while the French learned that their strength lay in representative[Pg 138] institutions. The Special Council which the English-speaking population had objected to in 1774, was desired by them in 1839; and the representative assembly which the French-speaking population had petitioned against in 1791, was prayed for by them in 1840.

Nor should the fact be lost sight of, that at and for some years before the conquest, the subjects of the French crown in Canada had no especial reason for liking the government which had been provided for them, for they had had dire experience of the despotism and had rarely enjoyed the paternity of the Bourbon’s rule. The words used in the proclamation which Wolfe issued from the Island of Orleans were historically and prophetically true. “France in her weakness” said the heroic soldier, “leaves you to your fate,” “England in her strength will befriend you.” The Canadians were by no means insensible to the truth of the first declaration, and in the absence of experience, they were scarcely in a position to discredit the last. Moreover they yearned for peace. Their hearts had sensibly sickened at a bootless quarrel, and their minds informed them that the time for closing it had arrived. Having done all that brave men could do, they sought to reconcile themselves to their new lot, and found consolation in the hope that the voice of war would be hushed and that the olive branch would again beautify their homes. In truth their pride in France had been wounded, for besides being grievously disabled by her enemies, she had become philosophically indifferent to her friends.—For some time her Canadian subjects had reason to doubt her power and now there was cause to question her affection. Moreover, the lily of the Bourbon, in its relation to New France, was tarnished with moral stains. Either the corruptions of the court, the exigences of the state, or the habits of the soldiery sullied its purity and caused it to become the symbol, if not of shame, at least of lawlessness and extortion. The husbandman, for example, knew not if he should reap what he had sown, and the laborer was uncertain whether he should enjoy the fruits of his toil.[Pg 139] Unparalleled monopolies on the part of the Government disheartened the trader, while avarice and exaction paralyzed commerce, and deprived industry of the power of exertion. Beyond all, the solemn decrees of Courts which had been established to dispense justice but too truly reflected the vices as well as the necessities of the sovereign by whose authority they were held. Thus were the forms of law given to acts of rapine, and thus were the people in some measure prepared to turn away from rulers, whose government had become too vicious to inspire respect, to a rival power whose authority at least was not too weak to afford protection.

The state of Canada for some time previous to and at the era of the conquest should steadily be kept in view if we would rightly understand why the Canadian people became so soon reconciled if not to the local government, at least to the general supremacy of their new rulers. War is necessarily cruel. The victory of one side, means more than the humiliation of the other. There must needs be actual oppression as well as incidental injustice. Such conditions can rarely be avoided and they were not absent from the conquest of Canada. During the interregnum between the acquisition and the treaty, England was obliged by means of martial law to provide for the material security of her new possessions. Neither did irregularities cease with the cession of the country, a good deal took place that ought not to have occurred, and there can be no doubt there was great ignorance, some impropriety, and consequently much miscarriage, in the administration of justice. Indeed the question for a long time remained undecided as to what should be done with the new possession, or whether the forms of English law should or should not supersede the forms of French law. The difficulty was at length settled by compromise. The English criminal law was introduced, while the French civil law was left as it was, Canadians being associated with Englishmen in administering it.

The desire of the British Government to do what was then[Pg 140] considered to be fair, made as we infer a marked impression on the minds of the Canadians. They had patiently watched the progress of amelioration and they were not only sensible of the fact that there was progress, but that their representations had been followed with generous concessions on the part of their rulers. Thus when less than twenty years had elapsed after they had passed by treaty under the dominion of the British Crown they had the opportunity of choosing between their new allegiance and their old love. France had cast her sword into the scale of the rebellious subjects of England, and by the help of her armies had enabled those subjects to wrest from the British Crown, the thirteen rebellious Provinces. But neither entreaty nor blandishment on the part of France or of French officers moved the Canadians from their purpose. The latter did not dislike England sufficiently to take part with France in her policy of revenge, neither did they admire the republican Provincials sufficiently to exchange for their supremacy the sovereignty of the British Crown. If not actually indifferent, they remained obstinately neutral during the contest, and very apathetic at the result.

Canadian historians have stated with more boldness than accuracy, that concessions were wrung from the fears which would not have been obtained from the justice of England. It would not be difficult, we think, to refute such opinions, as far as they relate to Canada, by the evidence to the contrary which such historians have supplied. It may however be as well to bear in mind that although temptation was then and subsequently encompassed with attractions, it did not materially influence those whom it was intended to move.

Thirty more years elapsed, and English rule was again put to the test of individual devotion, but with what result let the bright record of those heroic times testify. The people who were indifferent in 1782 were impassioned in 1812, and they who at the former period had signalized their loyalty by the negative quality of neutrality, exhibited it at the latter period by the positive one of[Pg 141] exertion. Neither were reasons wanting to explain conduct which might otherwise seem to be unaccountable. Much evidence might be adduced, but we shall content ourselves with the testimony of two witnesses. On the 16th October, 1752, the father of the subject of this sketch was born in the city of Montreal. Though at the time we are about to refer to he had passed the period of mature life he nevertheless remembered some of the circumstances which attended the conquest. He was probably well informed of the shortcomings which characterized the later years of the French rule, and he had been able to observe personally in what way the government had been carried on under the authority of the British crown. Although there was no deficiency of high handed acts, for Sir James Craig was the Governor-in-chief, still, the elder Mr. Papineau was able to compare what he had been told with what he had seen, and the conclusion at which he arrived as the result of the comparison, may be gathered from his avowal that the new order of things was worth fighting for. In 1810, he thus addressed the electors of Montreal: “I have given proof of my devotion to the preservation of a strict union of the provinces with the mother country, and I am still ready to expose my property and even my life for the preservation of the happiness we enjoy under the British government.”

Neither was the elder Mr. Papineau singular in the sentiments he then expressed, or in the sacrifices he was prepared to make. His son the Honorable Louis Joseph Papineau emphasised his father’s words with his own deeds, for though he approved not of the cause of the war of 1812, to his honor be it written, he did not hesitate to draw his sword for his king and country when the war broke out, for he served with credit in command of a volunteer company. Again, eight years afterwards his opinion of British rule knew no abatement, for he thus addressed the electors of the West Ward, Montreal, when he was returned by acclamation in 1820, at the election which took place on the death of George the Third.

[Pg 142]

“Not many days have elapsed since we assembled on this spot for the same purpose as that which now calls us together—the choice of representatives. The opportunity of that choice being caused by a great national calamity—the decease of that beloved sovereign who had reigned over the inhabitants of this country since the day they became British subjects. It is impossible not to express the feelings of gratitude for the many benefits received from him, and those of sorrow for his loss, so deeply felt in this, as in every other portion of his extensive dominions. And how could it be otherwise, when each year of his long reign has been marked by new favors bestowed upon the country?

“To enumerate these and to detail the history of this country for so many years would occupy more time than can be spared by those whom I have the honor to address. Suffice it then at a glance to compare our present happy situation with that of our fathers on the eve of the day when George the Third became their legitimate monarch. Suffice it to recollect, that under the French government (internally and externally, arbitrary and oppressive) the interests of this country had been more frequently neglected and mal-administered than any other part of its dependencies. In its estimation Canada seems not to have been considered as a country which, from fertility of soil, salubrity of climate, and extent of territory, might have been the peaceful abode of a numerous and happy population; but as a military post, whose feeble garrison was condemned to live in a state of perpetual warfare and insecurity—frequent suffering from famine—without trade or with a trade monopolized by privileged companies—public and private property often pillaged, and personal liberty daily violated, when year after year, the handful of inhabitants settled in this Province, were dragged from their houses and families to shed their blood, and carry murder and havoc from the shores of the great lakes of the Mississippi, and the Ohio, to those of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Hudson’s Bay. Such was the situation of our fathers—behold the change! George the Third, revered for his moral character, attention to his kingly duties, and love of his subjects, succeeded to Louis the Fifteenth, a Prince then deservedly despised for his debauchery, his inattention to the wants of his people, and his lavish profusion of the public moneys, upon favorites and mistresses. From that day the reign of the law succeeded to that of violence; from that day, the treasures, the navy and army of Great Britain are mustered to afford us an invincible protection against external danger; from that day, the better part of the laws became ours—while our religion, property, and the laws by which they were governed remain unaltered. Soon after are granted to us the privileges of its free constitution, an infallible pledge, when acted upon, of our internal prosperity. Now religious toleration; trial by jury (that wisest of safeguards ever devised for the protection of innocence); security against arbitrary imprisonment, by the privileges attached to the writ of Habeas Corpus, legal and equal security afforded to all, in their person, house and property, the right to obey no other laws, than those of our own making and our choice, expressed through our representatives; all these advantages have become the birthright, and will, I hope, be the lasting inheritance of our posterity. To secure them let us only act as British subjects and freemen.”

[Pg 143]

The gentleman, whose eloquent words we have just quoted, was born in the month of October, 1789,—and educated at the Seminary of Quebec. After the usual study, he was in 1811 called to the bar. There can be no doubt he displayed at a very early age the twin gifts of persuasive and declamatory oratory by which he was distinguished through life, for in 1812, he was the recognized as well as the enthusiastic leader of the national party. It is worthy of note, that like the Right Honorable Charles James Fox, Mr. Papineau was returned to parliament before he was of age; for he was elected for the then county of Kent, now Chambly, in 1808. In 1815 he was chosen Speaker, and from that time, with the exception of the period when he was absent on public business in England, until 1837, when the constitution was suspended, he continued to fill that much coveted office.

In 1820, on the invitation of His Excellency, the Earl of Dalhousie, he accepted the appointment of Executive Councillor, but for reasons with which we are unacquainted he did not take his seat. The misunderstanding, from whatever cause it may have arisen, was followed by very untoward results. Personal dislike supplemented political estrangement, and thus public questions were approached in a spirit more conspicuous for bitterness than for patriotism.

The government and the mode in which it was administered were denounced by Mr. Papineau and his party. Royal instructions were scoffed at, and supplies for the public service were stopped. So extreme were the measures of one party, and so vehement the resistance of the other, that those who were responsible to the crown for the conduct of affairs, began to look beyond the province for remedies which they failed to find within its borders. Thus it happened, that the project of a reunion of the Canadas was not only revived at Quebec, but it was received with favor in London. Indeed the prospect of success was so imminent that Messrs. Neilson and Papineau were sent as[Pg 144] delegates to England to arrest its progress, and it was mainly through their intervention that the measure was postponed for eighteen years. During Mr. Papineau’s absence, Mr. Vallières de St. Real sat for two sessions as Speaker. On Mr. Papineau’s return he retired, and the former gentleman was again elected. His triumph in England only increased his own hostility and that of his party to the Governor-in-chief in Canada.

Unquestionably there was much to provoke the Governor-in-chief who was more or less frustrated in his efforts to conciliate, as well as in his attempts to govern. Being reduced to comparative helplessness, His Excellency was betrayed into actual anger, and he displayed the folly which people usually exhibit when judgment is controlled by temper. Thus when Mr. Papineau was next elected Speaker, the Governor so far lost command of himself as to refuse his assent to the choice. The transaction, which is curious as well as unique was as follows:

On Wednesday, the 20th November, 1827, the newly elected House of Assembly met according to proclamation, and they were commanded in the usual way to elect their Speaker. Having done so, they attended on the following day at the bar of the Legislative Council, when Mr. Papineau said,

May it please your Excellency,

“In obedience to your Excellency’s commands, the House of Assembly of the Province of Lower Canada have proceeded to the election of a Speaker. I am the person upon whom their choice has fallen.

“When I consider, Sir, the arduous duties attached to that exalted station, and comparing my own talents and abilities to perform them in a manner corresponding with their dignity, I do most sincerely feel the inadequacy of my powers for that purpose, and I should in that consciousness have implored your Excellency not to suffer me to undertake the office, did not the Assembly by their once more electing me supersede my judgment.”

This modest address neither soothed the temper nor conciliated the respect of the Governor-in-chief, for the Speaker of the Legislative[Pg 145] Council, the Honorable the Chief Justice Sewell, by command of His Excellency thereupon said,

Mr. Papineau and Gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly,

“I am commanded by His Excellency the Governor-in-chief to inform you, that His Excellency doth not approve the choice which the Assembly has made of a Speaker, and in His Majesty’s name, His Excellency doth accordingly here disallow and discharge the said choice.

“And it is His Excellency’s pleasure that you Gentlemen of the Assembly do forthwith again repair to the place where the sittings of the Assembly are usually held, and there make choice of another person to be your Speaker, and that you present the person who shall be so chosen to His Excellency, in this House, on Friday next, at two o’clock, for his approbation.

“And I am further directed by His Excellency to inform you Gentlemen of the Assembly, that as soon as a Speaker of the Assembly has been chosen with the approbation of the Crown, His Excellency will lay before you certain communications upon the present state of this Province, which, by His Majesty’s express commands, he has been directed to make known to you.”

Of course this act of extreme power was not likely to pass unchallenged. Indeed it was an abuse of prerogative so flagrant and offensive that many questioned whether it could be constitutional. However, the members of the Assembly appeared rather to relish the grotesque proceeding. They saw not only that their adversary had dropped his guard, but that the advantage lay with them of administering a blow whose force should be chiefly felt in the violence of its recoil. Instead of rendering railing for railing, they quietly and with marked unanimity re-asserted their own independence by re-seating their insulted Speaker; and then, with cheerful animation of manner, searched for precedents for His Excellency’s conduct and for theirs. They discovered at remote periods two occasions on which sovereigns of England had resorted to similar extremities; once in the days of the Tudors, and once in those of the Stuarts. Thus it chanced that a transaction, which took place in the reign of Charles the Second, served to instruct in Provincial House of Assembly how to carry on a similar one in the reign of George the Fourth. The late Mr. Cuvillier,[Pg 146] who was a cool sagacious politician, appears to have had charge of the delicate business. Five resolutions were moved by him and adopted. The first declared that the Speaker ought to be freely chosen. The second that Mr. Papineau had then, and for six previous parliaments, been so chosen. The third and fourth that the presentation of the person to His Excellency for approval was an act of courtesy merely and not an obligation of law—and fifth that the Assembly persisted in the choice of the person whom they had already elected. On Mr. Papineau being again conducted to the Speaker’s chair, the minority who had opposed his re-election, consisting of Mr. Solicitor General Ogden and Messieurs Stuart, Christie and Young, not knowing what else to do acted with petulance and retired from the Assembly.

An address was then adopted to His Excellency nearly in the words used in the case of Mr. Speaker Seymour, as it is found in the Commons Journal of the time of Charles the Second. It was sent to the Governor by duly accredited messengers, who having delivered it, returned for answer that His Excellency would not communicate with the House until the day but one following. On which day a Proclamation, that had been left on the previous evening at the residence of the Clerk of the Legislative Council, was read proroguing the two Houses. Such was the weak issue of an unseemly struggle. No surprise was occasioned when Parliament again assembled in the following year that the Earl of Dalhousie had been succeeded in the government by Sir James Kempt, and we have no doubt that a ray of ironical triumph lighted the faces of the assembled representatives, as His Excellency gracefully repaired the mistake of his predecessor, by approving of the choice made by the Assembly in electing Mr. Papineau.

Governor succeeded Governor, but the change of representatives was unattended with any essential change of policy. Each party dwelt on its special rights and overlooked its general duties—exaggerated its powers and lost sight of its responsibilities. Doubtless[Pg 147] there was some excuse, for Parliamentary government as it is now interpreted, was neither understood by those who advocated nor by those who opposed it. The national party had studied English history in its fiercest passages, and the British Constitution in its most trying struggles. Moreover they had done so irreverently after the manner of impatient students, and they applied it angrily like irascible professors, when they reduced their knowledge to practice. Moreover they examined the subject theoretically as it is described in books, but they did not observe it practically as it is applied by statesmen. They seemed but feebly to perceive that the three estates of our mixed monarchy are not absolutely fashioned in cast-iron moulds, unyielding in their forms and inflexible in their substance. They overlooked the elasticity, the compensating powers, the balance movements, the expanding and contracting forces by which those estates control and regulate one another. Neither did they take sufficient account of the traditional and hereditary elements, the custom and usage with which their existence is intermingled. Consequently they missed so to speak the human elements which temper and qualify the whole; the consideration, the forbearance, the patriotism, and the common sense, which in the English system go far towards reconciling seeming contradictions and towards avoiding mere abstract difficulties—In short they attached too light a value to the statesmanlike words of an holy Apostle:—“The letter killeth but the spirit giveth life.”

Matters moved on apace. The ardour of Mr. Papineau’s zeal appears to have received fresh warmth by contact with the ardour of a band of young and enthusiastic adherents. But with the acquisition of the new there was a declension of his old supporters. Men of greater experience than the recruits began to inquire whitherward the policy of passion tended, to what point they were drifting. Some of the more aged men were thus thinking when in 1834 the celebrated ninety-two resolutions were submitted and after debate adopted. The division list on the question should[Pg 148] have commanded more attention than it received for it shewed a serious separation of the national party. But while the number of those who seceded was insufficient to affect the general policy of the party, it was probably enough to delay the unfortunate issue which was raised in 1837 when in a frenzy of rage each side appealed to the sword and one at least felt the consequences of the act; an act which history has stigmatized as a blunder and which the law could not do otherwise than deal with as a crime. Without discussing what to us at least has appeared a policy of contradiction on the part of its author we may mention that Mr. Papineau escaped to the United States. After residing there until 1839 he went to France where he lived for eight years. On the Queen’s amnesty being published, he returned to Canada we believe in 1847. He was shortly afterwards elected a member of the Assembly. But it was soon observed that while he had forgotten nothing, his countrymen had relatively learnt more than he had during his exile. They had learned, but in a different school, under a wiser, though perhaps a less gifted teacher, the way to combine the two great principles of constitutional government, loyalty to the throne and responsibility to the people, and utilize both the peace, welfare and happiness of the state. The embittered incidents of less happy times were gradually moving towards the grave of perished recollections. Politic men declined to recall them, and patriotic men cared not to dim the brightness of hope with the vapours of memory. Contented with what the present promised, they could speak philosophically of the past and mingle a great deal of charity with their criticism. For the fire of adversity which had devastated the province was also a fire of purification, and though it destroyed much that merciful men would have spared, it destroyed more that wise men would have got rid of; and thus it may have been that the life of the province was saved by the blood which it lost.

It was under such circumstances when former things were passing[Pg 149] or had passed away, that Mr. Papineau re-appeared on the familiar stage of public affairs. Time had dealt gently with him. His eye was apparently undimmed, his figure unbent, and his intellect unclouded by the encroachments of age. If, politically speaking, he had learnt nothing new, at least he had forgotten nothing that he had learned. The fond conceits of other days were as loyally cherished by him as if their wisdom had not been discredited by experience and their fallacy established by events. Thus when “the old man eloquent” swept those chords of passion which in less happy days thrilled the hearts, fired the imaginations, and moved the minds of men to madness, he found either that his hand had lost its cunning or the instrument its charm, or the audience its sympathy. The music though eloquent in persuasive power, fell upon unheeding ears, or perchance on hearts from which the evil spirit had been exorcised by influences which derive their strength from deeds rather than from words. For oratory and eloquence shrink and crumple like seared parchment in the presence of those sublime attributes—justice and truth! When these are dispensed without stint, those shed their spell, and fall, if not like idle words on heedless ears, at least like a tale too often told to wearied minds.

It is not easy to do justice to Mr. Papineau’s style as a speaker. Though in many respects his mind was, as we think, stencilled with prejudices too curious to be intelligible, and stained with enmities too sectional to be admired, he was, nevertheless, no ordinary exponent of sublime principles. His thoughts on most subjects were fervent in their heat, and glittering in their imagery. They flowed majestically with the river of his speech, and they seemed, in the variety of their appearances, to possess the qualities and characteristics of a beautiful stream. There were depths and shallows, brightness and rapidity, placidity and violence—all the changes which mark the rush and saunter of water to the sea. Not only was his style of speaking continuous and attractive,[Pg 150] argumentative and declamatory, it was separately complete. Each sentence was apparently constructed with care; each word had its weight, each syllable its accentuation; for Mr. Papineau seemed to heed what, unfortunately, too many persons disregard, the exact mechanism of speech, the particular process by which sounds are caught and language is conveyed.

Some men, in the words of Burke, “love agitation when there is cause for it.” Others like it from the force of habit, whether there is cause for it or not. They cherish it for its own sake. The exertion of ringing the alarm bell exhilarates, and the monotony of the tom-tom soothes them. Thus noises which once represented work are relished as a pleasant recollection, when the occasion for such noises has passed away. Quiet is insupportable to those who have been nourished on excitement. Mr. Papineau possessed all the qualities of an agitator of the highest type, and such qualities had, as it were, been consecrated by the habit of years. Since there was a cause, agitation was congenial to him, and became, as it were, a part of his necessary food. Yet, like other agitators, he was as frequently impelled by feeling as by reason; more inclined to destroy than to create, more careful to produce an impression than studious of the means by which it was to be effected. It was not, therefore, surprising when the time for serious action arrived, when physical was to be substituted for moral force, that his judgment wavered, and his conduct failed. He was brought face to face with the issue of blood, and he had no power to stay its effusion. He then discovered his inability to control the storm, much less to direct it to the point which he had proposed to himself. He was unequal to the duty of protecting those who had trusted to his lead, and whom he at least would not wantonly have exposed to harm. We shall not permit ourselves to discuss the disquieting question raised on one side by the late Dr. Wolfred Nelson, and answered on the other by the Honorable Mr. Dessaulles, as to the party especially responsible for the[Pg 151] outbreak in 1837-8. No advantage can attend the revival of such a discussion, and no arguments will remove the impression that, happily for the country, and for Mr. Papineau’s countrymen, “somebody blundered.”

With the departure of his influence, Mr. Papineau felt that his occupation in parliament was gone. After 1854, he did not present himself for re-election; but he sought, in the quiet of his seigniory of La Petite Nation, situated on the banks of the Ottawa, the border line between the old provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, a befitting anchorage and a congenial home. There in the serenity of a green old age, amidst the companionship of his books, the silent friendships of wise experience, or the official chronicles of his public career; after the manner of an old philosopher, he may often meditate on the fluctuation of opinion in its relation to the chances and changes of his eventful life, a life that included many controversies, imminent forfeitures, and perilous risks. Though, on some distant day that life shall have passed away, the incidents of it will remain, to be analysed by the critic or discussed by the sage, but with what result it were idle to speculate now. All that need be said is that his name, for he was an enthusiast, will serve to point a moral, and his history, for he was a fanatic, will help to adorn a tale. But though both will be searched for in the muster roll of patriots, they will less easily be found in the chronicles of statesmen.

[Pg 153]



“I will tell you,” said Lord Eldon to Mrs. Foster, referring to the election of the Duke of Wellington as Chancellor of the University of Oxford, “what charmed me very much when I left the theatre, and was trying to get into my carriage; one man in the crowd shouted out, “There is old Eldon, cheer him, for he never ratted.” I was very much delighted, for I never did rat. I will not say I have been right through life. I may have been wrong. But I will say I have been consistent.”—Public and Private Life of Lord Chancellor Eldon, by Horace Twiss, Esq.

There were very few persons in Canada who would not for the same reason have given a cheer for the Bishop of Toronto. Not that they wholly disbelieved the story of his early leanings towards the Scotch Establishment; or, being Presbyterians, forgave his final preference for the English Church; not that they sympathized with the grandeur, or regretted the failure of his most cherished endeavors, but they remembered how consistent and free from guile those endeavors had been, with what ingenuousness and singleness of purpose he had labored for what he believed to be right; and how conspicuously such labors were marked with the sterling virtues of truth, courage, and endurance. People who disliked his style, and took exception to his manner, who could not concur with him in his opinions, or co-operate with him in his policy, nevertheless acknowledged the fascination of his character, and felt their hearts drawn with boyish[Pg 154] sympathy towards him, not only because he “never ratted,” but because, like a knight of a chivalrous order, he neither stooped to parley nor listened to compromise; neither calculated the forces that were opposed to him, nor counted the cost of defeat; but indifferent alike to the odds or the issue, he closed fairly with the adversary, prepared if need be, to accept the loss of all things for a cause he was anxious to defend but not willing to betray. Though a vesture of humility, his cassock covered as brave a heart as ever beat beneath a breast plate; for he was in fact a “soldier” as well as a “servant of Christ’s church militant here upon earth;” the church which, according to his belief, was by human law as well as Divine appointment, established in the land—the church of his Sovereign and of his own choice, whose beneficent influence, like a goodly cedar tree, should, in his judgment, be fostered with care that it might overspread the land with blessing.

The minds and affections of generous men, irrespective of party, country, or creed, instinctively warm towards what is thorough in character and heroic in conduct, and hence, many who opposed him politically, and differed from him theologically, felt that human nature itself was exalted in his person; for whatever the peculiarities of his education, the infirmities of his judgment, or the errors of his opinion, he was a fair and courageous, as well as a high minded and inflexible opponent. Men knew where to look for and where to find him. He took no tortuous course, for he detested all crooked ways. Like Henry of Navarre, he was distinguished by the color in his crest, and by his place in the battle; and he never sullied the one nor slunk from the other. For nearly three-score years his banner flag was blazoned with the same scroll, and illumined with the same letters. Two words, semper idem, described his character. In the sentiment those words expressed, and the conduct they inspired, was to be found the key note of the complimentary cheer which soothed[Pg 155] “old Eldon,” and which, for the same reason, might have gladdened the heart of the Bishop of Toronto; for the Canadian prelate, like the English peer, had “never ratted.”

Unfortunately we have no space for the detailed narrative of a historian. We can only find time for the condensed sketch of a reviewer. Some other hand will, we hope, obtain access to materials which are not within our reach, and, at a later day, supply what we are compelled to omit. We know not whether the Bishop was an exact journalist; much less do we know whether any autobiographical notes, beyond those which may be found in his triennial charges, exist of his own life and times. Such memoirs should possess more than a common value; they would not only be coëval with the history of Upper Canada, but they would represent the calm, thoughtful, and mature observations of a very acute observer, of one who, as a divine and a politician, as a teacher, and a statesman, stands by himself, distinct and distinguishable in the gallery of Canadian worthies.

The Rev. Canon Dixon, of St. Catherines, in his touching sermon on the death of the Bishop, mentions a circumstance, noticed also by Dr. Melville in his interesting history of the “Rise and Progress of Trinity College, Toronto,” which has too commonly been overlooked. The Bishop’s mother, it would appear, was a member of what Sir Walter Scott called “the suffering and Episcopal Church of Scotland,” and her son in his early youth was brought up in the faith, and according to the formularies of that church. Such teaching bore fruit after many days, but it did not seem to give much promise at the time, for a saying is still quoted in Presbyterian circles at Montreal, to the effect that, in early life, Mr. Strachan was accustomed to observe that he did not care to go to church till “read prayers” were over. Episcopacy in Scotland was at that day, and to some extent is still, under a bann, for Prince Charles Edward, the heir of the Stuarts, then lived, nor was it until after his death in 1788, that the old Episcopalians of[Pg 156] that country, who, for the most part, were non-jurors, would read prayers for the reigning family of Hanover. Mr. Strachan’s parents (the name, by the way, seems to have been derived from, and was probably a corruption of, Strathaen, or the “Valley of the Aen”), resided at Aberdeen, where he was born on the 12th April, 1778. The time is noteworthy, for it was two months after France had recognized the independence of the thirteen rebellious Provinces in America, and had promised the material aid which contributed mainly to bring that event about. The success of the rebellion was closely followed by the exile and dispersion of the North American Loyalists, and their partial settlement in Canada. Such men, representing the best blood of America, were among the earliest and most steadfast of those dear friends whom Mr. Strachan won and never lost. Their opinions, as well as their aversions, very materially influenced his, for, like them, he was a royalist, on whose broad brow, to use Colonel Coffin’s striking metaphor, the “Tower mark of stirling was indelibly engraved.” Like them, too, loyalty with him was a passion as well as a sentiment—a resolve as well as a duty. He cherished a monarchical and loathed a republican form of government. Could he have persuaded men to think as he thought, then would he have established “in every church a bishop, and in every state a king.” In the language of James Montgomery, he might with as much fervor have said of his adopted, what the poet said of his native country:

I love Thee:—next to Heaven above,
Land of my Fathers! thee I love;
And rail thy slanderers as they will,
“With all thy faults, I love Thee” still:

Though in narrow circumstances, and comparatively humble position, Mr. Strachan’s father and mother were high-minded and sagacious people, thoroughly imbued with the national sentiment of the value of education, which they spared no pains to impress on the mind of their son. How earnestly, and under what difficulties that son followed their counsel, it were more easy to conjecture[Pg 157] than to describe, more convenient to envy than to imitate. The result will be best told in the Bishop’s language:—

“In 1796, having finished my terms at King’s College, Aberdeen, and proceeded to the Master’s degree, I removed to the vicinity of St. Andrews, and while there I contracted several important and lasting friendships, amongst others, with Thomas Duncan, afterwards Professor of Mathematics, and also with Dr. Chalmers, since then so deservedly renowned. We were all then very nearly of the same age, and our friendship only terminated with death, being kept alive by a constant correspondence during more than sixty years. After leaving St. Andrews I was for a time employed in private tuition, but having a mother and two sisters in a great degree dependent on my exertion, I applied for the parochial school of Kettle, in the county of Fife, and obtained it by public competition.”

This ordeal represented one of the turning points of his life. Small of stature, boyish in appearance, for the ruddy flush of youth had not forsaken his cheeks, and nineteen years of age, he found himself in a room, with forty-nine others, competitors for the mastership of the parish school at Kettle. The chances did not appear promising, but the indomitable pluck and perseverance which befriended him through life then assumed those forms of persistent resolve which constantly shewed themselves in his career. With Lord Brougham, he seems to have regarded the word “impossible” as the mother tongue of little souls, for his determination of character was commonly expressed in the emphatic and well remembered words uttered, we need scarcely add, in his much cherished but inimitable Aberdeen accent, which we can neither speak nor spell, “I never give up.” He did not “give up,” then. On the contrary, he seemed from the first to bend men and events to his will, and though he could not at all times command the success he then achieved, he at least made great efforts to deserve it. The examiners declared his to be the best papers, and him as a matter of course the successful candidate. When the stripling made his bow and claimed his prize, the elders who were assembled to bestow it, were dismayed at his youthful aspect. Indeed they would have re-considered the decision with a view to escape from its obligations, had not one of their number, a writer[Pg 158] to the signet, shrewdly suggested that such a proceeding might expose them to the perils of a law suit; on that account he suggested it would be safer for themselves, as well as fairer to the lad, to keep to their contract; adding by way of encouragement, that should Mr. Strachan be found unequal to the duties they would be at liberty to dismiss him. Under such circumstances the young schoolmaster took his place as the teacher of one hundred and twenty-seven boys, some of whom were older and many were taller than himself. We shall again quote the Bishop’s words:

“And here at the age of nineteen, I made my first essay in the great field of educational labor, commencing my career with a deeply rooted love for the cause, and with something of a foreknowledge of that success which has since crowned my efforts. It was my practice to study and note the character and capacity of my pupils as they entered the school, and to this discrimination, which gave correctness to my judgment, many owe the success which they ultimately achieved. Among my pupils at that time was Sir David Wilkie, since so well known as one of the first painters of the age. I very soon perceived Wilkie’s great genius, and with much difficulty prevailed with his uncle to send him, still very young, to the celebrated Raeburn, then enjoying the highest reputation in Scotland. It is pleasing to remark, that after an interval of perhaps thirty years, the preceptor and scholar met in London, and renewed an intimacy so profitable to one and so honorable to both. They attended the meeting of the British Association at Birmingham together, and saw much of one another during my short stay in England. Often did Sir David Wilkie, at the height of his fame, declare that he owed every thing to his Reverend teacher, and that but for his interference he must have remained in obscurity. Commodore Robert Barclay, afterwards so unfortunate on Lake Erie, from causes over which he had no control, was another of my pupils. He was a youth of the brightest promise, and often have I said in my heart that he possessed qualities which fitted him to be another Nelson, had the way opened for such a consummation. While at St. Andrews, the Reverend James Brown, one of the acting Professors of the University, a gentleman of vast scientific attainments, became so exceedingly attached to me as to take me under his kind protection. After some time he was advanced to the chair of Natural Philosophy in the University of Glasgow, to which place he removed. Still interested in my welfare, he proposed to me to become his attending assistant, to prepare and make the experiments necessary for the illustration of his lectures, and in his absence from infirm health, which was not unfrequent, to read his prelections, and discharge such of his duties in the lecture room as I was qualified to undertake. But difficulties intervened to prevent this arrangement from being carried out when almost completed, and Dr. Brown was, as he intimated to me, reluctantly[Pg 159] induced to retire on a pension. But our mutual attachment continued through life. This to me was a very bitter disappointment. A career of honorable usefulness had been opened in a way after my own heart, and it was in a moment destroyed. But I was not overwhelmed, for God had in his goodness given me a cheerful spirit of endurance, and a sanguine disposition as to the future, which it was not easy to depress, and a kind Providence, even before I had altogether recovered the shock, presented to me an opportunity of removing to another sphere of activity, and in the frame of mind in which I found myself, I was the more disposed to accept employment in Canada.”

For three years before and during the time when Mr. Strachan was teaching the parish school at Kettle, some noteworthy events were in progress in Canada which were destined to give shape to his opinions as well as to his career, but of which he then probably knew nothing. Ten thousand United Empire Loyalists had obtained the King’s license to settle in the Western portion of the old province of Quebec. For them, if not at their instance, that province was separated into the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, with distinct governments and distinguishing laws. The thoughtful minds of England in church and state endeavored to extract lessons of wisdom from adversity, and apply them anew to the vexed problem of colonial government in the infant province of Upper Canada. Unlike some of the older plantations in America which had been used as coverts for outlaws and penitentiaries for felons, Upper Canada, if not the theatre of a poetical trust, was at all events the special allotment of a praiseworthy destiny. At the outset the province was to be peopled by men on whose characters the soil of crime had not rested, by men whom virtue had ennobled, who had surrendered possessions for a sentiment, and had suffered the loss of all things for the cause of their prince and their flag. Neither were the king and parliament of that day disposed to regard such sacrifices with indifference; on the contrary, they honored the weakness of a patriotic affection, and did what they could to treat it with respect. Statesmen did not accustom themselves to sneer at the exuberant loyalty of the Canadian people, or complain of being embarrassed by its demonstrative qualities. Dire experience had taught them that the absence of that sentiment in the old colonies had been followed[Pg 160] by disaster, and that therefore the presence of it in the new ones should be fostered as the condition of safety. Thus was it that an exuberant loyalty was not only tolerated as a passion, but was treated as a virtue. To utilize such loyalty and give stability to the monarchical principles which it represented, the constitutional act, as it was termed, was passed, and His Excellency Major-General Simcoe, as the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, was charged with the duty of giving force to its provisions.

In his opening speech to the Parliament of Upper Canada made at Newark, now Niagara, on the 17th September, 1792, His Excellency amongst other things said:

Honorable Gentlemen of the Legislative Council, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly,

I have summoned you together under the authority of an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain, passed in the last year, and which has established the British Constitution, and also the forms which secure and maintain it, in this distant country. The wisdom and beneficence of our Most Gracious Sovereign and the British Parliament, have been eminently proved, not only in imparting to us the same form of government, but also in securing the benefit of the many provisions that guard this memorable act, so that the blessings of our invaluable Constitution, thus protected and amplified, we hope will be extended to the remotest posterity.

In closing the same session, on the 15th of the following month, His Excellency said:—

Honorable Gentlemen and Gentlemen,

I cannot dismiss you without earnestly desiring you to promote, by precept and example, among your respective Counties, the regular habits of piety and morality, the surest foundations of all private and public felicity; and at this juncture I particularly recommend to you to explain that this Province is singularly blessed, not with a mutilated Constitution, but with a Constitution which has stood the test of experience, and is the very image and transcript of that of Great Britain, by which she has long established and secured to her subjects as much freedom and happiness as is possible to be enjoyed under the subordination necessary to civilized society.

In 1793, the two provinces of Upper and Lower Canada were erected into a distinct See, and on the 13th of November of that year, the Right Reverend Jacob Mountain, D.D., arrived in Canada, having previously been created Bishop of Quebec. In[Pg 161] 1795 that Prelate was summoned to the Executive and Legislative Councils of Lower Canada, and on the 25th January, 1796, Lord Dorchester advised Governor Simcoe that His Majesty had been pleased, under royal mandamus, to appoint “the Right Reverend Father in God, Jacob, Bishop of Quebec and its dependencies, to be of the Executive Council in the Province of Upper Canada.” No special explanation accompanied the order, but the student of English constitutional history will have little difficulty in discovering a reason for the proceeding in the analogous practice of the mother country, where the senior Bishop of England, who is, of course, the Archbishop of Canterbury, by ancient and prescriptive right is entitled to be present at all meetings of the Privy Council, irrespective of the consideration whether such meetings are confidential or otherwise. It is therefore probable that the authors of the Act of 1791, as well as those who were commissioned to carry out its provisions, were desirous that the spiritual element should not be absent from a form of government which was said to be “the very image and transcript of that of Great Britain.”

To make the constitution symmetrical, if not perfect in its resemblance, the missing part was supplied, and hence it came about that the church and state in Canada, as in England, were represented in the same government. This practical commentary, taken in connection with the words of the constitutional act, with the words of the coronation oath, and with the debates which took place in Parliament at the time, gave color to their opinions, who asserted that the “very image and transcript” of the British Constitution included the Church of England as truly as it did the law of England. How far such opinions were accurate, is no part of our business to enquire, but such, and kindred incidents, should be steadily borne in mind, if we would fairly appreciate the character and conduct of the late Bishop of Toronto; for the faults of his life, and the fame of his life, are in no small degree traceable to the interpretation he attached to those incidents.

[Pg 162]

On the 20th July, 1796, Governor Simcoe, in a despatch to the Duke of Portland, recommended that the sevenths of the Crown lands should be sold for public purposes: “the first and chief of which I beg to offer, with all respect and deference to your Grace, must be the erection and endowment of an University from which more than from any other service or circumstance whatsoever, a grateful attachment to His Majesty’s government, morality and religion will be fostered, and take root throughout the whole Province.”

We have no means of knowing what answer was returned to the foregoing recommendation, but that it was favorably entertained we may fairly assume from the Bishop’s narrative which we now continue:

Among the many schemes contemplated by General Simcoe, for the benefit of the province, was that of establishing Grammar schools in every district, and a University at their head, at the seat of Government.

Anxious to complete, as soon as possible, so beneficial an object, the Governor gave authority to the late Honorable Richard Cartwright and the Honorable Robert Hamilton, to procure a gentleman from Scotland to organize and take charge of such College or University. These gentlemen, whose memories are still dear to the province, applied to their friends in St. Andrew’s, who offered the appointment first to Mr. Duncan, then to Mr. Chalmers, neither of whom were yet much known, but both declined. Overtures were then made to me, and, suffering severely under my recent disappointment, I was induced, after some hesitation, to accept the appointment.

I sailed from Greenock towards the end of August, 1799, under convoy; but such was then the wretched state of navigation, that I did not reach Kingston by the way of New York and Montreal, till the last day of the year 1799, much fatigued in body and not a little disappointed at the desolate appearance of the country being, throughout, one sheet of snow. But a new and still more severe trial awaited me. I was informed that Governor Simcoe had some time before returned to England, but of which I had received no information, and that the intention of establishing the projected University had been postponed. I was deeply moved and cast down, and had I possessed the means, I would have instantly returned to Scotland. A more lonely or destitute condition can scarcely be conceived. My reasonable expectations were cruelly blighted, a lonely stranger in a foreign land, without any resources or a single acquaintance. But my return was next to impossible, and it was more wisely ordered. Mr. Cartwright, to[Pg 163] whom I had been specially recommended, came to my assistance, and sympathized deeply and sincerely in this, to me, unexpected calamity, and after a short space of time proposed a temporary remedy. My case, he acknowledged, was most trying, but not altogether hopeless, and he submitted to me an arrangement which might be deemed only temporary, or lasting, as future events should direct. Take charge, said he, of my four sons and a select number of pupils, during three years; this will provide you with honorable employment and a fair remuneration, and if, at the expiration of that period the country does not present a reasonable prospect of advancement, you might return to Scotland with credit. He further added that he did not think the plan of the Grammar schools and University altogether desperate, although it might take longer time to establish them than might be convenient or agreeable. In my position there was no alternative but to acquiesce, and I was soon enabled to return to a healthy cheerfulness, and to meet some difficulties with fortitude and resignation. In the meantime, a strong attachment grew up between me and Mr. Cartwright, whom I found to be a man of great capacity and intelligence, of the strictest honor and integrity, and moreover a sincere Churchman from conviction, after deep inquiry and research. A similarity of feelings and tastes tended to strengthen and confirm our mutual regard, which at length ripened into a warm friendship, which continued without the slightest change or abatement till we were separated by death. I was left the guardian of his children, the highest and most precious proof of confidence that he could have conferred upon me, and I feel happy in saying that under my guardianship they became worthy of their excellent father. At Kingston, I formed other friendships, especially with the Rev. Dr. Stuart, the rector of the parish, and the Bishop’s commissary for Upper Canada; a gentleman whose sound judgment, sagacity, and other high mental qualities were rendered more useful and attractive, by his kind and courteous demeanor, and a playful wit which seemed inexhaustible. From this gentleman, I received the most affectionate and parental attention and advice from the day of our first interview, and our friendly intercourse continued ever after without interruption. At Dr. Stuart’s suggestion, I devoted all my leisure time during the three years of my engagement with Mr. Cartwright, to the study of Divinity, with a view of entering the Church at its expiration. Accordingly, on the second day of May, 1803, I was ordained Deacon, by the Right Reverend Dr. Mountain, the first Protestant Bishop of Quebec; and on the third day of June, 1804, I was admitted by the same Prelate into the holy order of Priests, and appointed to the mission of Cornwall.

The opinion which the Bishop of Quebec had formed of the newly ordained Deacon was sagaciously conveyed by that Prelate to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign parts, as the following note, which is extracted from the minutes of the proceedings of that Society, will more clearly shew:

[Pg 164]

“The Mission of Cornwall has been filled up by a Mr. Strachan, whom the Bishop ordained for that purpose, having been first mentioned to the Bishop by Governor Hunter, as desiring to obtain Holy Orders in the Church of England, and afterwards recommended by Mr. Cartwright, a member of the Legislative and Executive Councils, by Dr. Stuart, by Mr. Chief Justice Elmsley, and by many other gentlemen worthy of great regard and respect. And the Bishop further adds that upon examination he was so well satisfied with respect to Mr. Strachan’s principles, attainments, conversation and demeanor, that he must confess that he shall be more than commonly disappointed if he do not become a very useful and respectable Minister.”

Clergymen, often observe, what indeed laymen have much reason to notice, that what are termed distinctive church principles were less dwelt on seventy years ago than they are now; and this fact being connected with the common belief at the time that the Church of England was established by law in Canada may have done much towards giving the direction which Mr. Strachan’s ecclesiastical career was destined to take. Old-fashioned members of the Church of Scotland had an intense repugnance to being accounted dissenters. Rather than incur such contumely or take their station in the outer court when they might stand within the temple itself, it was by no means an unusual circumstance for Scotsmen resident in England to conform to the established church of that country. A native of Dundee, residing in London, said in the hearing of the writer: “I like my religion to rest upon a law basis. In Scotland I go to the established church, and in England I go to the established church, and for the same reason in both countries, because they are established.” In like manner a native of Aberdeen resident in Canada might not have been insensible to similar considerations. If he intended to take holy orders he would not at that day have been indifferent to the important contingency whether by so doing he would become a minister of a church by law established, or a preacher of a sect by custom tolerated. Change of opinion, if it really took place, formed no exception in the case of Mr. Strachan to the rule which commonly governs all such changes; that is to say, it was gradual but progressive, unobtrusive but continuous,[Pg 165] where controversy was rather avoided than sought for, and conviction, like conversion, was a process rather than a surprise. Luther at the outset of his career made but slow progress towards those opinions which rendered his later life illustrious, nevertheless the fact that he had but partially ascertained the ground work of his new opinions did not prevent his building in what he had ascertained. Doctrinal disquisitions were then, more generally than they are now, regarded by English people as the especial property of the spiritual order with which the laity had but little to do. Read by the light of some contemporary memoirs, such exercises seem to have been regarded as theological gymnastics, possibly requisite for the mental health of the clergy, but of no moral worth to the generality of the laity. Simple country folk declined to disquiet themselves with subtleties; they were content according to their capacity to believe those things which a Christian ought to know, and they illustrated their belief by the duty of “holy living” as the prime requisite to “holy dying.” Moreover the earnest men of that day were called upon to engage in other controversies than those which turned on distinguishing Church principles. They had to take up the challenge of infidelity, and wrestle with the aggressive forms of unbelief which showed themselves at the end of the last and at the beginning of the present century. This duty with respect to a common danger had a tendency to bring together the religious elements of the community, and to unite them for certain purposes in the bonds of a conventional brotherhood. Thus the settlers in Canada, whether Episcopalians or Presbyterians, learned to respect one another, and many of them having, in the spirit of gentleness rather than of controversy, compared notes, began to see the common advantage of ecclesiastical union, and from that time some of the latter became earnest members of the Anglican Church. Let us again listen to the Bishop’s words:

On entering upon the discharge of the duties of my ministry, I adopted the rule enjoined on Timothy by St. Paul, to avoid needless discussions on religious[Pg 166] subjects, and never to forget that I was sent to proclaim and to teach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. Therefore, when any came who manifested a sincere desire to know the truth, it was my duty, as it was my joy, to encourage and assist them in their enquiries; but if they came merely to dispute and wrangle for the sake of victory, I refused to indulge them. By such a course, I gradually acquired authority, and, notwithstanding my youth and inexperience, I was able to repress superciliousness and to expose ignorance. In the meantime, my walk and conversation and friendly bearing to all around me, increased my influence, not only with the young, but with the elderly part of the congregation. Moreover, I endeavored to be on all occasions prepared to give an answer with reverence to everyone of my parishioners, who asked me for a reason of the hope that was in me. With this view, I made the study of the Holy Scriptures, from which all the formularies of our Church are drawn, my daily practice; and after no little enquiry, found her Book of Common Prayer, her Creeds, her Thirty-nine Articles, her ministration of the Holy Sacraments and her other minor offices, in marvellous harmony one with the other. This conviction set my mind at rest, and enabled me at all times to speak with the boldness of conviction in favor of our beloved Church, and with an inward satisfaction and firmness of purpose which, under the Divine blessing, has never changed. Notwithstanding my careful preparation and my knowledge from personal intercourse that my people were kindly disposed towards me, I felt exceedingly agitated on preaching my first sermon. Looking at my audience, I was deeply struck with my own weak and slender attainments, and the awful responsibility I had assumed, and from which there could be no retreat. I was now, in the providence of God, occupying a station, if faithfully employed, of great social and religious influence, and of vast consequence both to myself and my people; and if it should happen the same congregation, or any member thereof, to take any hurt or hindrance by reason of my negligence, I knew the greatness of the fault, and also the horrible punishment that would ensue. More than fifty-seven years have passed away since that sermon was preached, and I still behold in the book of remembrance the whole of that scene as if it were yesterday, and I am at times even yet similarly affected. My congregation in Cornwall was, at first, very small, and confined to the village and neighborhood, consequently my clerical duties were so little burthensome as to leave me much leisure time. Thus situated, I was induced to listen to the solicitations of the parents of some of my pupils, who had not finished their studies at Kingston, to continue them at my new mission, and also to the urgent entreaties of many from Lower as well as Upper Canada, to admit their sons to the same privilege, because there was at that time no seminary in the country where the Protestant youth could obtain a liberal education. I spent nine years very happily at Cornwall; my time was fully, and on the whole, usefully and pleasantly occupied. My congregation gradually increased, and the communicants multiplied year by year. I sought recreation, occasionally, from what I called missionary excursions. I considered my parish to extend as far as Brockville, about sixty miles, and within this area I[Pg 167] made from time to time, as my avocations admitted, appointments for divine worship, and for the administration of the sacraments. These services were delightful to myself, and gratifying to the people scattered through the wilderness. Hundreds are still alive who were baptized at these appointments, and many a mother’s heart was filled with joy in beholding her child made a “member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.”

The Venerable Archdeacon Fuller in a sermon preached on the 10th of November, 1867, at St. George’s Church, Toronto, on the occasion of the Bishop’s death, says: “Having the charge of the parish of Cornwall, he (the Bishop) had to visit a good deal among his parishioners besides having to prepare his sermons for Sunday. He had also to study every night quite as hard as the boys, “for I was not,” as the Bishop elsewhere observed of himself, “much in advance of the highest class in school. Those duties demanded sixteen hours every day, and yet those nine years were the happiest years of my life.” To be sure, the nine years included an event of personal interest, the prospect of which very commonly exerts an exhilarating influence on the mind, and the realization of which is not unattended with important results to the estates of men. The young clergyman’s conduct was worthy alike of praise and of imitation, for, if there be truth in local traditions, he shewed his taste by marrying the prettiest, his prudence by marrying the richest, and his good judgment by marrying one of the nicest young gentlewomen in the old town of Cornwall. The event took place in 1807, and the lady was Ann, a daughter of George Thompson Wood, Esq., M.D., a retired surgeon of the army, and the relict of Andrew McGill, Esq. Mrs. Strachan, by whom he had a numerous family, died only a few months before the Bishop. In the same year, 1807, the degree of LL.D. was conferred on him by the University of St. Andrews, and that of D.D. by the University of Aberdeen. Though we anticipate the course of our narrative, we may here note that in 1812, he was appointed Rector of York; in 1827, Archdeacon of York; and in 1839, Bishop of Toronto.

The Cornwall school became a notable one. All who desired[Pg 168] their sons to receive their education from a Protestant teacher, and could afford the expense, sent them to the Rev. John Strachan, D.D. The roll of the school included such names as Sir James Stuart and his more gifted brother Andrew; Chief Justice Sir J. B. Robinson and his brother, the Hon. William B. Robinson; Chief Justice Sir J. B. Macaulay, Chief Justice McLean, Justice Jonas Jones and his brother Charles, the Dean of Montreal, and his brother, the present Bishop of Toronto. The Honorable Henry John Boulton, and his brother, the Honorable George Strange Boulton, Colonel Vankoughnet, Donald Æneas MacDonell, the Rev. Wm. Macaulay, Mr. Soloman Chesley, and many others, who have reflected honor on the country. Of his qualifications as a teacher, Archdeacon Fuller, one of his “Toronto boys,” says:

“The Bishop had a great faculty not only for attaching his scholars to him, but also for inducing them to apply themselves most assiduously to their studies. He told me that he made it a rule, during the time he kept school, to watch closely every new boy, and at the end of a fortnight, to note down in a book his estimate of the boys who had passed through his hands. He had a remarkable talent for interesting boys in their work; and, by taking a deep interest in it himself, he led them to do the same. He was very original in many of his plans for promoting the good of his school. Amongst others, which I never met with elsewhere, was one of making the boys question one another on certain of their lessons. This made the boys quick at seizing on the leading points in the lessons, ready at shaping questions, and deeply interested in the questions and answers. The Bishop took as deep an interest in the questioning and answering of the boys as they did themselves; and thus this plan, whilst it was of great service to the boys in various ways, tended strongly to bind master and scholars together. He was never afraid of having his dignity lowered by liberties taken with him, and he always felt every confidence in his position and entered warmly and personally into many of the boys’ amusements, and thus gained an immense influence over them. The influence over his pupils has been shown in the fact, that almost all of them embraced his principles; and the love and affection for him of his celebrated Cornwall school was shown many years ago, when the surviving members thereof presented him with a most beautiful and costly candelabra. Nor did his more recent scholars entertain less affection for him, though they never proved it so substantially as did those of his Cornwall school.”

Of the Cornwall scholars few survive.—The “oldest boy” is probably the present Dean of Montreal, now eighty years of age.[Pg 169] His veneration for his old master has known neither change nor abatement, and it was a pleasing sight to see the two dignitaries, a few years since, walking arm in arm within the cathedral close of Montreal, for it showed that the wine of friendship had not spoiled by age. It was on the occasion of that visit that the photograph was taken which precedes this sketch.

The period of his residence at Cornwall was not only the happiest, it was especially the poetic period of the Bishop’s life. We have been informed that he was a facile writer of verse, and that some of his poetical compositions, in the form of odes and songs, are still extant. The Dean of Montreal, in a letter lately addressed by him to the writer, observes “the Bishop certainly wrote quite a number of fugitive pieces, such as prologues and epilogues, for his annual school exhibitions; also prose pieces, and even debates for the same occasions.” But though a ready rhymer and a lover of song, Dr. Strachan was not suspected of a very intimate acquaintance with music. It was, for example, his constant habit to whistle in a low soothing way as he walked; but like the droning of an imbecile bagpipe, or of a sleepy child, his notes indicated rather a tuneless sense of happiness than a tuneful expression of melody. Some people persuaded themselves that they could detect in those notes the air of a familiar song, but we incline to think they knew as little of the tune which they affected to be acquainted with, as the whistler did of the words to which it was set. It is one thing to write songs and another to sing them; for poets are not necessarily musicians. That he wrote the former we have little doubt, but we have never heard that he attempted the latter. Indeed his general character discourages such belief, for it was not his habit to undertake what he had not the ability to perform.

A new page in his life was about to open. The war of 1812 had broken out. That heroic soldier, Major General Sir Isaac Brock, not only had a bold man’s appreciation of a brave man, but he also possessed a statesman’s perception of a useful man. There was a[Pg 170] dearth of intellectual culture in the country at the time, for there were few persons who had enjoyed the advantage of an education equal to that which was imparted at the Cornwall school; thus the master of that school, though neither a very learned man nor a very ripe scholar, was by comparison and in virtue of his position looked upon as a kind of local encyclopædia of wisdom and culture. It is true that soldiers were chiefly necessary, but the General was not unaware of the fact that the sword could be sharpened with the pen, and that a good cause might be greatly aided by a good commentator; by one who, like a minstrel of the earlier days, could stir the hearts through the minds of men. Hence, at the instance of Sir Isaac Brock, Dr. Strachan was transferred from Cornwall to York, now Toronto, in succession to his friend, M. Stuart, who was appointed to the town of Kingston. The qualities of pluck and resoluteness which distinguished the former through life, received more than one illustration during the continuance and after the close of the war. Dr. Fuller mentions the following amusing incident:

On his way up the St. Lawrence in a small vessel, which contained his family and all his worldly goods, the courage of the late Bishop was put to the test. A vessel hove in sight, which the Captain supposed to be an American armed schooner, and it being during the war with the United States, he became alarmed, and came down to Dr. Strachan into the little cabin, and consulted with him about surrendering his craft to the enemy. The Doctor enquired of him if he had any means of defence, and ascertaining that he had a four-pounder on board, and a few muskets, he insisted on the Captain defending his vessel; but to no purpose, as he was entirely overcome by fear. The Doctor finding that he could not induce the Captain to defend his vessel, told him to intrust the defence of it to him, and to stay with the family in the cabin. This proposition was gladly acceded to by the Captain, and the future Bishop mounted “the companion way” fully determined to defend the little craft to the utmost of his power, but (as he remarked when detailing this incident to me some years ago,) “fortunately for me, the schooner bearing down upon us proved to be a Canadian schooner—not an American—for the four-pounder was fastened to the deck, and it pointed to the starboard, whereas the schooner came to us on the larboard bow!”

On his arrival at York he laid himself out for work. He was chiefly instrumental in establishing “the loyal and patriotic[Pg 171] society,” and was for many years its chief almoner. This charitable institution, it was said, did as much towards the defence of the province as half a dozen regiments. At the battle of York, the “little Rector” seems to have combined the characters of priest, soldier, and diplomatist. As a clergyman, he ministered to the wants of the wounded, and prayed with the dying. As a soldier, he prevented plunder and recovered spoil, and as a diplomatist, he did much towards saving the town from sack and violence. Without dwelling upon the sacred duties of his profession, we may mention one incident which will illustrate his coolness, and another which will show his tact. A young volunteer of that day, but a venerable ex-Legislative Councillor of the present time, mentioned to him that two American soldiers, fully armed, had visited the house of Colonel Givens, a British officer at that time with the retreating army. Having menaced the unprotected occupants of the isolated dwelling, the soldiers coolly helped themselves to what “loot” they could conveniently carry, including a silver tea-pot, which they secreted, with other valuables, about their persons. Acting under the conviction that skulkers were cowards, Dr. Strachan boldly advanced towards them and demanded their ill-gotten spoil. They answered the challenge by leveling their muskets at the gallant little clergyman. Nothing daunted, the latter stood his ground, and reiterated in bolder language, his demand for the restoration of their plunder. In such strangely contrasted styles, and with such different weapons, the soldiers and the priest confronted one another, and the question whether moral or material force would triumph, was still undecided, when, through the vigilance of the young volunteer already mentioned, a valuable ally was brought to the rescue, in the person of an American officer, who at once put an end to a nervous pantomime, by ordering the soldiers to surrender their booty. Again, when the garrison magazine was exploded, and with fatal effect to General Pike and[Pg 172] a considerable portion of the invading force, General Dearborn was not unnaturally exasperated, and threatened to revenge the sacrifice of his soldiers on the unoffending inhabitants of the town, by burning it to the ground. Hearing that such intentions were entertained, the magistrates deputed Dr. Strachan to invite the General to a parley. We shall quote the words of another:

“His great firmness of character saved the town of York, in 1813, from sharing the same fate as the town of Niagara met with some months afterwards. The American General, Pike, having attacked and routed the small force defending York, was shortly after killed by the blowing up of the magazine in the garrison. His successor, being enraged by the incident, though it was not attributable to any of the inhabitants of the town, determined to have vengeance on them and to burn down the town. This determination coming to the knowledge of the authorities, they deputed Dr. Strachan to remonstrate with the American Commander (General Dearborn) against this intended act of barbarity. He met him in the old fort; and I have been told by men who witnessed the interview between these parties, that words ran high between them; the American General declaring that he would certainly burn the town, and the future Bishop declaring that if he persisted in his atrocious act of barbarity, vengeance would be taken upon the Americans for such an unheard-of outrage; and that Buffalo, Lewiston Sackett’s Harbor, and Oswego would in course of time (as soon as troops could be brought from England) share its fate. The earnestness and determination of Dr. Strachan moved the General from his barbarous purpose, and York was saved from the flames.”

The war and its perils had given a well-merited celebrity to the services which Dr. Strachan had been able to render. He had shewn himself to be wise as well as courageous, and it was natural enough that such qualities should have inclined men to think well of, and place confidence in him. Thus the favorable impressions which had been privately formed of his conduct and capacity were publicly confirmed when the convenient season arrived, for he suddenly found himself menaced with the calamity of those of whom all men speak well. So far as we are informed, there is no evidence whatever to shew that he then aspired to the political prominence at which he subsequently arrived. On the other hand, it can scarcely be questioned that he had been brought into positions[Pg 173] perilous to his subsequent peace. He had entered the delectable land, where the thirst for rule is more easily acquired than quenched, where the mind becomes excited with its own portraitures, and where irrepressible aspirations involuntarily spring from the newly-awakened passion for power. Such a passion is no slavish lust, though, in the intensity of its character, it may resemble less elevated desires. On the contrary, it is noble in its aim, for such aim is nothing less than to give shape and vitality to those plans of virtue and purposes of good which the irresistible will deems to be worthy of immediate attainment. Thus, it not unfrequently happens, that a duty which a passing accident has imposed, becomes an obligation from which there is no possibility of escape. For example, Dr. Strachan’s connection with public affairs was not of his seeking. It arose out of the exigences of the times, and especially from the menaced and imperilled state of the province. The continuance of his connection with those affairs must be regarded as the logical sequence of an accident; for the difficulties of government did not disappear with a return of peace. On the contrary, when the enemy had withdrawn within his own frontier, the high-spirited people whom he had ruined, and the noble province he had ravaged, had to be ruled, and men of approved sagacity were required for that purpose. The services which Dr Strachan had rendered were neither unknown nor unappreciated, and the loyal men of Canada found little difficulty in determining that one who had proved equal to the duty of serving them by his wisdom in a time of danger, would be equal to the duty of serving them by his counsels in the time of safety. Moreover, the fact of Dr. Strachan being a clergyman, may have been regarded as an advantage rather than a drawback. At all events, it was not deemed to be a disqualification. The constitution of Upper Canada had theretofore failed in one important respect to resemble the constitution of England of which it was said to be the “image and transcript.” The missing element was[Pg 174] the church, for until then the state only had been represented in the Upper House of the Legislature. Again, the war of 1812, like the war of the revolution, which ended in the independence of the American Provinces, had caused the people of Upper Canada to compare their own political system with the system of government which obtained in England, and if possible to make a closer approximation to uniformity between the practice they had therefore followed and the practice they were anxious to follow—to enquire wherein the analogy was incomplete, and to take measures to supply what was wanting. That a connection of some kind between church and state in Upper Canada was supposed to exist, may be gathered from the circumstance already mentioned, that the first Anglican Bishop of Quebec, on his arrival in Canada, was appointed by Royal command to be a member of the Executive Council of the Upper Province. The appointment seems to have been ex officio only, for there is not, so far as we are informed, any record of that prelate having taken his seat. After the war was ended, it is probable that the question which had been theoretically met in the way we have mentioned, came up again in a practical form, and with such force as to demand an exact solution. There was no Bishop in Upper Canada upon whom to confer political distinction, and it may, on that account, have been thought desirable that the most eligible clergyman should be chosen to represent the sacred part in a government which was to include both the temporal and spiritual orders, since it was to be the counterpart of the constitution of the parent state.

Such aims were probably as congenial to the mind of Dr. Strachan, as they possibly were at that day to the people among whom his lot had been cast. But in applying those aims, a path of life was opened before him for which he had in no wise prepared himself, and wherein to walk steadily would tax his efforts to the utmost since statecraft and Christianity do not always go hand in hand. In leaving his native land his ambition was circumscribed[Pg 175] within the four imaginary walls of a newly formed university. But the university which he had supposed would be ready to receive him, was only dreamed of when he arrived; it was not planned, much less built. “No thoroughfare” was legibly written across his path. In a spirit of bitter disappointment he turned aside, but, as it chanced, to find a wider field of exertion and a greater space for usefulness. With reverence we may say that “it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” A plan of life seemed to be appointed for him by hands other than his own, for a singular combination of fortuitous accidents, like swathing bands divinely wrought, appeared to enclose him as with a girdle. He may have drawn a long anxious breath as he weighed his duties and responsibilities, for in conforming to the obligations they entailed, he sacrificed ease and peace to irksome toil and untiring opposition. No doubt he intended to serve the church by accepting service in the state, for he wished by the official contact of the former with the latter, to increase the influence and add to the beauty of religion. And though it may be questioned whether means so alien to peace did not do much towards frustrating the end they were designed to serve, still it should be borne in mind that in obeying the command of his sovereign to take part in the counsels of the state, he was only seeking to perfect the similitude between the Upper House of the Province, and the Upper House of the Empire, and moreover, that he was doing so in the way most persons at that day were inclined to advocate, for the Mandamus by which Legislative Councillors were then summoned to the Upper House, was expressed in these words: “Know ye, that as well for the especial trust and confidence we have manifested in you as for the purpose of obtaining your advice and assistance in all weighty and arduous affairs, which may the state and defence of our Province of Canada, and the Church thereof concern, &c.” Thus, Dr. Strachan may have been well excused if he regarded himself as the especial champion and representative of the church in the state, since the[Pg 176] peculiar duties which were associated with his appointment were such as he might neither omit nor evade. How thoroughly the church of his choice had become the church of his affections is written in almost every page of his published works. How ardently he desired “to lengthen her cords and strengthen her stakes,” is seen in every effort of his active life. He neither questioned nor doubted the human blessedness of her office. He believed that the union between the church and the state which existed in the old country, ought not to be put asunder in Canada, for with the Earl of Eldon he was of opinion “that the establishment is formed, not for the purpose of making the church political, but for the purpose of making the state religious.”

The desire lay near his heart to make Canada resemble England, resemble her in religion, in manners, in character, in institutions and in laws. To this end he sought to establish rectories in stated places, to cover the Province with a network of parishes, and to establish in each parish a centre of religious and educational influence, as well as of social and intellectual refinement. The picture of the future, which his fancy sketched, may have resembled the actual picture which Cobbett saw from one of the glorious uplands of his native country, and which he has vividly described in his nervous writings. In imagination, Dr. Strachan beheld a noble Province, divided into parallelograms and apportioned into parishes, each parish the centre of an accredited representative of that genial, well mannered Christianity which is the popular characteristic of the clergy of the national Church; the settled abode of one whose character would be respected and whose influence would be seen in the every day intercourse of common life. His desire was that religion and learning, re-acting on one another, should sanctify taste, elevate morals, purify manners, and blend with the hard and roughening influences of the backwoods, many of the social refinements and home attractions which grow around the old grey church towers and within the trim parsonages of England. The machinery[Pg 177] of church work through the whole of its educational course, from the cradle to the grave, formed in his mind a vision of present loveliness and future peace. Moreover he wished to unite and consolidate the Protestant forces of Upper Canada, and thus create, under the protection of Canterbury, a power sufficiently imposing to avert the encroachments of Rome. To make the ideal real, he gave his mind to thought, and his life to toil. But alas! as the picture which Melnotte drew for Pauline, of the hanging palaces by the Lake of Como, was evanescent as well as beautiful, so also was the picture which Dr. Strachan painted of the parochial system of Canada, as fabulous as it was fair, for he had no sooner taken his seat in the councils of his country, than the first shock of that moral earthquake was felt which ere long was to destroy the fabric which his fancy had fashioned, and leave amidst the debris, “leaded” as it were “in the rock,” the old imperishable words “vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

We do not, in this short paper, intend to dwell at any length on, much less to consider critically, the public career of the late Bishop; but it may, nevertheless, be of interest to some, if we extract from the Parliamentary Papers of England, the first official expression of doubt that we can find as to the meaning of the words “Protestant clergy,” accompanied, as it was, with the earliest effort of which any record has been preserved, to open the clergy reserve question and assail the clergy reserve properties.

On the 17th of May, 1819, Sir Peregrine Maitland addressed a despatch to Earl Bathurst, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, with a petition from the Presbyterian inhabitants of the town of Niagara and its vicinity, praying for a yearly grant of £100 towards the support of a minister of the Church of Scotland, the patronage and selection being offered to the Lieutenant Governor. The petitioners suggested that the sum referred to “should be paid out of the money annually collected on account of Clergy Reserves.” This petition, His Excellency observed, “involves a[Pg 178] question on which I perceive there is a difference of opinion, viz.: Whether the act intends to extend the benefit of the reserves for the maintenance of a Protestant Clergy to all denominations, or only to those of the Church of England. The Law Officers seem to incline to the latter opinion.” It will be observed that His Excellency had been advised to state the case in a very loose, not to say unfair way, for the question then raised was not between the “Church of England” and “all denominations,” but between the Church of England and the Church of Scotland. The effort on the part of the friends of the former church to place the members of the latter in the category of dissenters was exceedingly injudicious, and helped to embitter the controversy which followed. To questions of law and divinity there were added elements of discourtesy, which were necessarily attended with a good deal of hard feeling as well as with very embarrassing consequences, consequences which were by no means qualified by the fact that the disputants, for the most part, were hard-headed Scotsmen. In his despatch, dated 20th May, 1820, in answer to the foregoing, Earl Bathurst noted the distinction which Sir Peregrine Maitland had failed to make.

His Lordship observes, “as to the right of Dissenting Protestant Ministers resident in Canada to partake of the lands directed by the Act 31 Geo. III, chap. 31, to be reserved as a provision for the support and maintenance of a Protestant Clergy. I have now to acquaint you that His Majesty’s Law Officers are of opinion that though the provisions made by the 31 Geo. III, chap. 31, ss. 36 and 42, for the support and maintenance of a Protestant Clergy, are not confined solely to the Church of England, but may be extended also to the Clergy of the Church of Scotland, yet that they do not extend to Dissenting Ministers, since the terms “Protestant Clergy” can apply only to the Protestant Clergy recognised and established by law.”

The distinction thus made by Earl Bathurst included results which would have proved fatal to Dr. Strachan’s cherished plan of a state church in Canada. Wherefore the Doctor, and those who thought with him, determined to answer Earl Bathurst’s dictum with a remonstrance.

[Pg 179]

The paper, which purports to be a “Petition of the Corporation for superintending, managing and conducting the Clergy Reserves within the Province of Upper Canada,” is signed by John Strachan, D. D., as Chairman, and dated York, 22nd April, 1823. It is interesting, for it is written by one who understood the executive machinery of both Churches. It is also instructive, for it shows how little the course of general history is influenced by individual opinion, and how commonly men fall into mistakes who overlook those powers which have their roots in ignorance as well as in knowledge, in envy as well as in truth, and which, whether they spring from virtue or from vice, exert wonderful influences on the social structure and organization of communities as well as in the political and religious government of states. Without dwelling on such considerations, we shall only extract the concluding paragraph of the petition:

“That your Lordship’s petitioners will not presume to state to your Lordship the strong feeling which they entertain of the irregularity and inexpediency of introducing at this day a new religious establishment in the Diocese of Quebec, and Province of Canterbury, but they are impelled by a sense of duty most earnestly, though most respectfully, to deprecate the rivalry to the Church of England, and those endless evils of disunion, competition, and irritation of which a compliance with the Ministers of the Kirk of Scotland cannot fail, in the opinion of your Lordship’s petitioner, most widely to scatter the seeds. They deprecate the erection of a particular interest to strengthen prejudices which may exist against the establishment not otherwise insuperable, to alienate minds which are neutral and undecided from conformity to the Church, and by so doing cut away one of the surest and safest bands which might connect them with the state. They deprecate the extinction of that hope of religious unanimity, in the future generations of Protestants, who shall occupy these fine and extensive countries which can only be fostered and matured under the blessing of Divine Providence, by the judicious protection of the English Church establishment already formed, and the completion of the plan already provided by the wisdom of Government.”

In 1818 Dr. Strachan was appointed a member of the Executive and Legislative Councils, and his connection continued with the former until 1836, and with the latter until the union of the Provinces in 1841. From the first mentioned year until 1854, when the[Pg 180] clergy reserves were finally sequestrated, Dr. Strachan courageously fought his cause. Even when it was lost in the estimation of his supporters, and when compromise was advisable as well as possible, he still declined to be a party to what he believed was politically a great evil, and morally a great sin. Like one of old he regarded not the consequences, but refused to acquiesce in measures that had the taint and flavor of sacrilege. He left to those who chose to assume the responsibility, the work of appropriating to secular uses what had solemnly been set apart for sacred ones. It is not difficult to see the hand of Dr. Strachan in the despatches addressed by successive Lieutenant Governors to successive Colonial Secretaries. There are passages of irony almost bordering on banter in some of those documents, difficult even now to read without a smile—a smile that would be relishing could it be separated from the subject which provoked it. But though the struggle of thirty years ended in the defeat of the church party, that defeat was neither attended with disgrace nor followed by ill-will. Even now, as the question is dispassionately considered, there are not a few among the victors who speak of their triumph, as an injury to the principles of the reformation, and on that account would willingly have changed sides with the enemy whom they vanquished—the fine old churchman who “never ratted” but bravely fought his cause to the last.

Second only in importance to his effort to establish the Anglican Church in Upper Canada, and to secure to her in perpetuity what he at least regarded as her rightful patrimony, must be ranked his exertions for half a century to erect and endow a university on the model of the ancient universities of England. But his labors in this, as in the matters already mentioned, were destined to end in disappointment. It is true, indeed, that the existence of the University of Toronto, as well as Upper Canada College, are indirectly due to his exertions; for in procuring a charter for the predecessor of the first named institution he laid the foundation of the present[Pg 181] university. But though he is fairly referred to in the language of compliment as its founder, nevertheless the honor, so far as we are informed, was neither claimed nor coveted by him. On the contrary, he made little effort to conceal his feelings with respect to it, for he complained bitterly not only as one who had been despoiled of his possessions, but as one who had been robbed of his own fair child, and had been offered in its stead the lean and ill-conditioned offspring of another, alien in form, unlike in feature, and different in name, whom he could neither press to his heart nor recognize as his own. The Toronto University was not King’s College. In those halls for education which he had striven to raise he dreamt not of a perishable home. The discipline of study, which he had hoped to see carried on there, like the discipline of teaching, which was to be continued elsewhere, was preparatory only. The matriculants in his esteem were candidates for immortal honors, for degrees in “the house not made with hands.” The school, the college, the university represented the approaches to the Church, and the Church was the vestibule of heaven. They were essential parts of a prescribed pathway through which mortal man might pass from “the city of destruction” to “the mount of God.”

It is possible to imagine, though it is less easy to portray, the bitter trial through which he must have passed, as one idol after another was crushed at his feet, and scattered beyond his reach. It is true, indeed, that his mind was severely disciplined to disappointment, for the lamp of success very rarely brightened his vale of years. Yet though we make allowance for the fact that he was familiar with failure, it is not easy to analyse the emotions which must have visited him as he took note of the gradual growth of the Toronto University. Even a stranger is struck with the external beauty of that visible expression of applied science. Like a gem of mediæval art, fittingly set in a frame-work of verdure, it silently commands the admiration it receives. But it is not difficult to suppose that to the eye of the Bishop such unquestionable charms rather aggravated[Pg 182] than diminished the anguish of his heart. It was hard for him to see such perfection of beauty separated, if not estranged from the supreme author and source of beauty. It was hard for him to see those brave old trees jubilant with joy, waving their glad arms around those curious carvings and dainty fretworks, and not to feel within his nature a root of bitterness with which they, at least, had no sympathy. It was hard to see such “a fabric huge, rise like an exhalation,” on the very ground, near to the very spot which had been prepared and set apart by him for a purpose so similar, and yet so unlike; oh! it was hard to see and not to feel in the overthrow of hope how exquisitely painful is the irony of joy. Moreover, it was impossible for his clear mind to be insensible to the fact, that the noble structure which adorned those college grounds, like a jewelled casket, was correspondingly rich in its furniture of thought. There was the requisite machinery, including many of the pleasant and most of the necessary appliances for work, and there, too, were the human parts, the professors and masters singularly well chosen, to control and direct all. Beauty and culture were there, but the untravelled heart of the venerable Bishop yearned for its Christian cloister, for the voice of prayer and the song of praise, for the law and discipline by which learning had been hallowed in the ages of the past. He missed what he deemed to be the pivot of the system, for he saw not the central glory from which all education in his judgment should proceed. He mourned less for the success of his adversaries than for the slight to his Church; less for their triumph over him than for the missing Shekinah, the absent altar, the unoffered morning and evening sacrifice, and for what he regarded as the virtual eclipse of faith within those walls. Men may make light of creeds, catechisms and confessions of faith, they may sneer at prejudices, discredit motives and ridicule dogma. Nevertheless, the picture of a good man’s sorrow is no unworthy subject of contemplation. It is always touching for its sadness, and sometimes eloquent[Pg 183] for its sublimity. Such sorrow sobers the sense, quickens the pulse, and touches the soul, for it appeals to our better nature, and reminds us of the goodness from which we have fallen. Thus, thought becomes cleansed and purified by contact with heavenly things. It is inflamed with the brightness of the better land and acknowledges the excellence of goodness in this. It throbs with virtue, and thrills with immortality. Its yearnings reach from the visible to the everlasting, from “the life which now is, to that which is to come.”

But if such reflections disquieted the Bishop they produced no corresponding effect on the minds of those who, with the property, had won the right to control the educational system of the Province. Having opposed the Bishop from considerations of conscience, or motives of policy, such persons were neither required nor expected to feel as he felt, or to be sorrowful as he was. They had been educated according to another rule, and having graduated in a different school of thought were governed by another principle of action. In their judgment, the plan of the Bishop for uniting religious with secular education was embarrassing if not hurtful, and included greater difficulties than it overcame. They, therefore, separated the subject from its accessories, and making light of the argument derivable from its sacred obligations, they regarded the struggle as little more than the effort of an able tactician to secure an advantage to a favoured party. Thus was the question of education and the control of our chief university removed from the privacy and quiet where such work can be best carried on into a region of debate and contention, and thus it came to be dealt with, as if it were some political annoyance, such as a boundary or a franchise, the perplexity of one party and the sport of another. In passing, it is difficult to dismiss reflections which are more or less present to the minds of most thoughtful people. Our effort to loose and to bind is, by no means, free from embarrassing considerations and disquieting fears. One party, for example, destroyed what another[Pg 184] party had created, so the institution thus created, proceeding as it does from a parentage of strife, contains the germ of its own destruction, and may in the end become the prey of all parties. At present, the state purchases forbearance by paying tribute for peace; but let such tribute be withdrawn, let the leash be cut by which fanaticism and self-interest are partially kept in check, then may not the danger arise of an indecent scramble for a desirable property? Canada may in the Toronto University possess her Prometheus, and it is, perhaps, worth while to weigh the cost of unbinding him, for the combined forces of local, sectional and religious rivalry, which the myth represents, might, perchance, fall with fatal impetuosity, if not on the building itself, at least on the endowments by which it is supported. Such a result would be a national calamity, which no wise man should provoke; but, nevertheless, which might be generated in the lap of political craft and religious exasperation?

The marks of failure which were fatally impressed on the clergy reserve and the University questions, were as indelibly stamped on the Bishop’s exertions with respect to common schools. In noting the ill success of those efforts, the fact should not be overlooked that the subjects were germain to one another, and that failure in regard to one of them, like an epidemic, might be expected to run its course through the whole. But if there was uniformity in the result, there was also consistency in the plan, for his experience of defeat taught him no new lessons of strategy. In his anxiety to obtain what he deemed to be right, he took no account of what was possible. He aimed at what was absolute and perfect, and rejected what was feasible and mixed. It was contrary to his character to navigate as the sailor steers, to observe the direction of the wind and turn as the ship tacks; if he could not keep his course in a direct line he would not attempt to do so by an oblique one, he neither calculated tides nor observed currents, and hence in the opinion of many he failed to touch the haven he might otherwise have reached.

[Pg 185]

Some persons are of opinion that no religious body in Upper Canada could have exerted more influence than the Anglican Church in moulding the common school system of that Province; and yet it is probable that no religious body has shewn less aptitude for such work. Those who have spoken for her have pitched their voice to a key unfamiliar to the majority of her members. Such utterances may have been theologically sound, but they were practically inapplicable and positively inexpedient. The Bishop’s opinions, like his character, were not fashioned in a flexible mould, for they were not made of malleable but of cast iron. He was unbending in purpose and unyielding in action. His opinions were not sentiments but convictions; moral properties of which he deemed himself to be the trustee, and from which he would not abate one jot or relinquish one tittle. Compromise was foreign to his experience, and concession was unsuited to his temper. Hence he had little respect for their researches, and none for their conclusions, who teach that the history of the church of England, like the history of the realm of England, is in fact a history of compromise.

But disappointment did not result in despair. There was dignity as well as grace in the way in which he accepted defeat. Indeed his character never shone to greater advantage than when he snatched a triumph from an overthrow. His resources were as manifold as they were inexhaustible. At the age of seventy-two he ceased from strife, and bowing obediently to a painful law, he began with renewed industry to build afresh what we regard as the fairest, and what we believe will prove to be the most enduring monument of his fame. Sweet to him had been the uses of adversity, for though his contest with the civil power had been obstinate and exhausting, and though he had been worsted in that contest, nevertheless, his ascent from the “valley of humiliation” was luminous if not with victory, at least with hope. In the strength of acquired wisdom and inherent[Pg 186] faith, he appealed to new agencies, and called into use new instruments of work. He took a closer survey of the moral landscape, and examined afresh the most approved codes of Christian warfare, and he soon learned how to move and combine forces with which, until then, he was presumed to be unfamiliar, and in which he had placed but little trust. Thus was it that by means of what we may truly call “the weak things of the world he confounded the things that were mighty.” Turning from Princes in whom he ceased to place his trust, and from laws, which, like reeds, had broken beneath his weight, he appealed to sentiment and religion, to faith and duty, to individual sympathy, and to individual sacrifice. In the sacred names of truth and justice, he invoked the aid of that voluntary principle which he had formerly discredited, and sought in the free-will offerings of the many, what he had hoped to find in the munificence of one. He appealed to honor and self-interest, to the recollection of wrongs, and the conviction of right, and his stirring words called into life the latent enthusiasm of gifted souls. His heart was inflamed with the fire he had kindled. He would scarcely give sleep to his eyes, or slumber to his eyelids, until he had erected a college wherein the divine law should fill the chief place in the circle of the sciences. Thus he turned from the creature to the Creator, from human policy to the divine government, from man to God. He shut the statutes that the sunlight might shine upon the gospel. He endeavored “to forget the things that were behind,” that he might, with an untrammelled mind, “reach forward to those that were before,” and being impelled by memory and allured by hope, he moderated his appeal to the intellect that he might intensify his address to the heart. It was a brave sight to behold the heroic Bishop playing the roll of a voluntary. It was a brave sight to see one who had passed the period of life allotted by the Psalmist, stooping afresh to take up its burden, and submitting once more to the toils and sacrifices,[Pg 187] the trials and disappointments which he had some right to lay aside. It was a brave sight to see one who could be indifferent to personal ease and conventional prudence, to the suggestions of comfort and the seductions of policy, setting himself to the duty of building in Canada a monument such as William of Wykeham erected at Oxford, not only where the work of education might be begun in the faith of Christ, but where, in the strength of the adorable Trinity, it might be continued and ended to the glory of God.

We have no space to trace the history of King’s College, from the time the Royal Charter was granted, to the time when that Charter was revoked by an act of the Legislation of Canada. It must suffice to mention, that on the 1st January, 1850, the act which substituted the University of Toronto for King’s College, came into operation, and, that in consequence of such act, the Bishop issued a stirring pastoral, concluding with these emphatic words:—

“I shall not rest satisfied till I have labored to the utmost, to restore the College, under a holier and more perfect form. The result is with a higher power, and I may still be doomed to disappointment; but it is God’s work and I feel confident that it will be restored, although I may not be the happy instrument to live to behold it. Having done all in my power, I shall acquiesce submissively to the result, whatever it may be, and I shall then, and not till then, consider my mission in this behalf ended.”

On the 10th of April, 1850, he left for Great Britain, and on the 4th of November following, he again returned to Toronto. Three days afterwards, the Medical School, in connection with Trinity College was formally opened, and on the 30th of April following, the corner stone of the College was laid by him with becoming ceremony. On the 15th January, in the succeeding year, the College was opened for work, when the venerable Bishop in his touching speech, very feelingly, described his emotions as “the joy of grief,” ending his eloquent address with these words:

[Pg 188]

“The rising University has been happily named the child of the Church’s adversity, because it is the offspring of unexampled oppression—a solitary plant in a thirsty land, which may yet suffer for a season under the frown of those whose duty it is to nourish and protect it. But the God whom we serve brings good out of evil, and makes the wrath of man to praise him. We, therefore, take courage, and feel assured that as He has smiled upon our undertaking thus far, He will bless it to the end. In the meantime, I trust that Trinity College will henceforth be recognized by every lay and clerical Member of our Communion, as the legitimate child of the Church, and entitled to the benefit of their protection and daily prayer.”

Thus were the hopes of half a century realized, and the labors of a life brought to a successful close. The attractive Gothic structure which adorns the western portion of Toronto should and we hope will be regarded by the churchmen of Ontario as the most fitting monument to his fame, who in life subscribed himself “John by Divine permission first Bishop of Toronto.”

In his Bibliotheca Canadensis, Mr. Morgan mentions that in the year 1811 under the signature of “Reckoner” the Bishop wrote no less than seventy essays in the Kingston Gazette. It would gratify the curiosity of many, and be interesting to all, could we only give the titles of those essays; but alas! we have neither the facts nor the space for such a recital. There can be no doubt that he was a voluminous as well as a vigorous writer. The subjects of his pen included sermons and tracts;—biographical, historical and statistical papers. Letters on political, theological and ecclesiastical subjects. Charges to his clergy, journals of his visitations, and pastoral letters to his Diocese. He was a healthy scribe, and a keen disputant, for he relished controversy. “The waters of strife” were not distasteful to him, for he was accustomed to dare them; neither was opposition without compensating advantages, since it called into exercise the “native hue of his resolution.” His sacred office and the claims of his cloth generally served to tone his language, and keep his temper in subjection to his will; yet the “old Adam” would occasionally shew itself in the form of sharp set words; for when, like the late President Lincoln, “he put his[Pg 189] foot down,” the muscular exploit was occasionally attended with some noteworthy consequences, including abrasions to courtesy, bruises to charity, and damage to the pride if not to the argument of the assailant. But though there was a sting in his style, there was no spite in his nature. He might throw his antagonist roughly, but he would pick him up again kindly. Or should the issue of the conflict be reversed he would accept his defeat with the grace of one who could respect his victor. Being a courageous, he was also a magnanimous man. His views were large views, and when they could be indulged without violence to his religious logic, they were generous views. Thus in his dealings with his clergy, he recognized great latitude of opinion, for practically he had a just appreciation of the religious liberty which is consistent with the spirit and genius of the Anglican Church. His own principles were clear and well defined, nevertheless he had a scholar’s respect for the learning as well as for the principles of other people, and hence he neither required an Islington pass word nor a Liturgical shibboleth from clergymen who desired to work in his diocese. In common with the great body of Anglicans he may have preferred the principles of Arminius to those of Calvin, but he did not on that account brand with an anathema, or blemish with a prejudice, those weaker Christians who could not receive the full measure of the Catholic faith.

The benevolence of the Bishop was practiced with systematic and discriminating gracefulness. Misfortune rarely appealed to him in vain, and poverty seldom left his house unrelieved; for compassion and charity were as conspicuous in his character as fidelity and endurance. With respect to projects connected with religion his liberality was a proverb. There were few churches or parsonages in the province in regard to which the striking imagery of the prophet Habakkuk could not have been applied, for “the stone might have cried out of the wall,” and “the beam out of the timber might have answered it,” and each have told the other that its[Pg 190] presence there was due to the silver or the gold which were his gifts. Money with him was apparently regarded as nothing more than a talent to be used, as a trust to be administered. He loved it not for its own sake, and no surprise was expressed that he saved little and died poor. To Trinity College, the dearly loved “child of his old age,” he had given his ungrudging help and his frequent prayers, and though at his death he had little besides his blessing to bestow, yet of that little he bequeathed “to his dear College” his “joy of grief,” as a mark of his affection, the valuable library which he had accumulated, and the costly plate which his Cornwall scholars had given to him.

In matters of charity and benevolence as well as in matters of general philanthropy or local improvement, his were the sagacious counsels and the strengthening words, the guiding hand and the generous heart, the advice and co-operation that went far towards crowning exertion with success. Moreover, there was a phase of charity which shewed itself conspicuously in those exacting forms of civic courage which test our metal, and are perhaps more trying to personal endurance than any act of physical daring. “The pestilence that walketh in darkness, and the destruction that wasteth in the noon-day” represent shapes of evil, before which brave men have quailed, and from which even valiant men have fled. But such terrors wrought no perceptible change in him. His holy faith and his sacred calling nerved him with strength, and both were harmoniously exhibited in his works. In fulfilling the duties which seemed to lie in his path, he was not accustomed to take thought of consequences. He believed that He who “considered the lilies” would not overlook him. In the fearful cholera seasons of 1832-4 his well-remembered figure seemed to be ever abroad, for the only difference he made was to redouble his exertions, and stick closer to his duty. In thus confronting danger with a Christian man’s courage, he reproached no one, while his example put many to shame, for he calmly discharged services from which[Pg 191] they, who ought to have performed them, shrank with dismay. Having visited the sick, and prayed with the dying, he was frequently called upon to shroud the dead, to place them in hurriedly made coffins, and bury them in hastily made graves. As a good citizen, as well as a laborious minister, he endeavored to practice what he preached. Religion with him was less a sentiment than a duty, and thus the pathway of his long life was less beautified with the blossoms than strewn with the fruits of benevolence. He did not seem to age in his tastes or his occupations. His memory kept green long after the memories of his contemporaries became seared and yellow. Youth always attracted him, and his affections turned with especial fondness toward little children, not only because they were the best human types of purity and innocence, but because their natures were bright and hopeful like his own. Many will remember with what unalloyed happiness he adapted his conversation to their capacity, as well as the exuberant joy with which his presence was looked forward to and greeted by them. He knew how to combine the offices of a Bishop and a friend, and he set no light value on the influence for good which might be exerted by one who could, in his life and conversation, shew the truth of the Psalmist’s experience, that the ways of religion are “ways of pleasantness, and that all her paths are peace.”

But the period was fast approaching when he was to close his eyes on the scenes of his toil and his fame. The hand of time it is true was laid with rare gentleness on him, but he was not insensible to its pressure. The duties which he had theretofore been enabled to perform without difficulty became exacting and oppressive. His conscience rebelled against the intermission of any of those duties and hence arose his desire for relief and assistance. The Diocesan Synod appreciated his wish, and interpreted it aright when they elected as his coadjutor in the Episcopate, one who had been his pupil and was his friend, who had shared his thoughts and[Pg 192] sympathized in his plans, and with whom he could confer with confidence, and act with affection. In 1866 the venerable A. N. Bethune, D.D., and archdeacon of York, was duly elected to the office, and in virtue of canons, passed by the Synod in the previous year, he was on the 25th January, 1867, on the Festival of St. Paul, consecrated as the Bishop of Niagara, with an understanding that he should eventually succeed to the See of Toronto.

The year which opened thus suggestively, was destined ere its close to fulfil the purpose for which its solemnities had made provision. The seasons of flowers, fruits and faded leaves had passed away. “The chaplet of the year” was dead, and the “angry winds” of winter were ready to issue from their icy caves. The autumn festival of All Saints, the last in the annual cycle of the services of the church, the “drear November day” arrived, when the venerable Prelate, for whom an assistant had been chosen, was to be separated from the cares of his Bishopric, and when his soul, with “the souls of the righteous” was to pass to “the hand of God,” “where no torment shall touch them,”

To soar those elder Saints to meet
Gather’d long since at Jesus feet.

And with respect to the appointed fasts and festivals of the Church it will occasion no surprise to learn that the subject of this sketch solemnly marked such days for religious observance and holy worship. This law of his conscience and of his church was strikingly exemplified in the sermons prepared by him for such occasions. It is true that the congregations to which those sermons were delivered were censurably and unaccountably small, nevertheless he took no note of numbers, for his discourses were as thoughtfully written for the “two or three” who then met together, as they would have been for a full congregation of worshippers. Such a practice sprang from a sense of duty, and not a hope of applause, for the alloy of human ambition found no place in his religious services.[Pg 193] The ladder of pride was not the means by which he was instructed to reach the dwelling place of the Most High.

Thou art mighty; we are lowly;
Let us reach Thee, climbing slowly,

was his confession and his practice. “Let us reach Thee” if not altogether at least one by one. “Let us reach Thee” who will

Redeem us one by one
Where’er the world encircling sun,
Shall see us meekly kneel.

In speaking of preaching and public worship we must notice a circumstance to which Canon Dixon has referred with natural admiration. It would appear that the last sermon the Bishop delivered, was singularly solemn in its lesson, and as the event showed, almost prophetic in its application. Like love in death, the discourse was laden with memory and hope, with experience and anticipation.

It brightened backward through the past,
And gilds the stormy path he trod;
And forward, till it fades at last,
In light, before the feet of God.

Heart, soul, and lips, the sympathetic triad, seemed to answer one another, for they were “beauty laden” with the passionate language of adoration. In the words of a holy Apostle the aged Bishop in the closing words of his last sermon exclaimed with unwonted fervor: “I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

He who spake thus had nearly reached the age of fourscore years and ten; and although his physical powers had very perceptibly given way, the serene sunshine of intellect still lingered about his head, for his mind continued bright and clear to the last. The frail[Pg 194] body was manifestly hastening towards earth, while the aspiring soul peradventure was beating the bars of its prison house, and struggling towards heaven. It was seemly that the festival of “All Saints,” the festival which the Church holds in especial reverence should have been the day whereon he was to pass through the grave and gate of death, to his reward and his rest, to his consolation and his crown; to the great congregation of those who in the portion of scripture appointed for the Epistle for the day are represented as “standing before the throne and the Lamb, clothed with white robes and palms in their hands.” It was the poet’s picture reduced to experience. The vision of the saintly Keble shewn in life.

How quiet shows the woodland scene!
Each flower and tree, its duty done,
Reposing in decay serene,
Like weary men when age is won,
Such calm old age as conscience pure,
And self commanding hearts ensure,
Waiting their summons to the sky,
Content to live, but not afraid to die.

In a notice on the subject which is to be found in the Journal of Education for Upper Canada, the Reverend Dr. Ryerson very pertinently remarks “that the Bishop had long outlived the jealousy of distinctions and the enmity of parties. He ceased at once to work and live, amid the respect and regrets of all classes of the population. In truth he survived all his early contemporaries whether friends or enemies. The descendants of the former mingled with their hereditary love great personal admiration; while the removal of the occasions of strife enabled the latter to feel that there remained enough of what was sterling in his character to justify them in blending much warmth with their respect. No such congregation of mourners had ever before assembled within the walls of that large Cathedral, for almost the whole community was stirred by a common grief for a common loss. Many loved,[Pg 195] all respected him, and not a few were there who had preserved rare morsels of precious memories, which in thought at least, they cast like votive offerings in the ‘unveiled bosom’ of his ‘faithful tomb.’”

The plate on the coffin bore the following inscription:





Born 12th April 1778. Died 1st November 1867.


The coffin, as we read, was carried to the hearse, and afterwards to the grave, by old pupils of his Toronto school, whose names are among the familiar household names of the Province of Ontario. They were the Venerable Archdeacon Fuller, the Rev. W. MacMurray, D.D., the Vice-Chancellor Spragge, Mr. F. H. Heward, Mr. William Gamble, and Mr. John Ridout. The touching service for the burial of the dead was said, the former part by the Rev. Canon Baldwin, A.M., and the latter by the Dean of Toronto. The proper lessons were read by the Rev. Canon Bevan, D.D. The garish light of day was excluded from the building, and the jets of gas were permitted only to gleam with feeble lustre, here and there, amidst the thick drapery of mourning which, pall like, enshrouded the place where he had prayed for more than fifty years. Darkness was indeed made visible, but light enough remained to distinguish the silver plate which, like a luminous hatchment, brightened, while it indicated the central cabinet of death. Men perchance spoke in whispers of the “spirit that’s gone,” or with becoming reverence of “the mortal” which had “put on immortality.” The breath of the living seemed to rise like incense to Him who had taken to Himself the breath of the departed. It was the sacrifice of tears and praise, of thanksgiving and memory, of prayer and faith, of hope and peace, which was borne upwards on the wings of music and devotion, to the throne above the stars. A thousand[Pg 196] voices, some eloquent in their sorrow, and others eloquent in their song, were laden with or repeated the old words, which peradventure were old words when they consoled the Patriarch of Idumea, and which, for the solace of “the quick” and the hope of “the dead,” have been borne down the stream of time from then till now: “I know that my Redeemer liveth; and though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”

The grave was placed in the chancel, in front of the holy table, hard by the place where Christian people, “meekly kneeling upon their knees,” are accustomed to receive the renewing grace of the blessed Sacrament; hard by the place where he, in his prime and in his age, was most frequently seen, and from which, on Sundays and holydays, on fasts, and festivals, he was accustomed to bestow the apostolic benediction, the foretaste of that peace of which we believe he now enjoys the fruition:

The Peace of God which passeth all understanding.

[Pg 197]



The Hon. Charles Dewey Day, who has lately been chosen by the Government of the Province of Quebec as arbitrator for dividing and adjusting “the credits, liabilities, properties, and assets” of the former Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, is not unusually selected to discharge duties which require for their performance a mind equitably regulated, and evenly balanced. When the choice was made, people seemed at once to acquiesce in its propriety, and to wonder that the name of the gentleman chosen had not occurred to them, as a matter of course. While the government of Quebec may be accounted fortunate in their arbitrator, we shall merely add a few facts and dates as pendants to his appointment.

Mr. Day was called to the bar in 1827. In 1837 he was created a Queen’s Counsel, and in the following year appointed Judge Advocate in attendance on the Courts Marshal which the political exigencies of those unhappy days made of frequent occurrence. In 1839 he was named Solicitor General and called to the Special Council. In 1840 he was summoned by Lord Sydenham to the Executive Council, and at the general election which followed he was returned as member for the county of Ottawa. He held his seat in Parliament, as well as in the administration, to the 20th of June, 1842, when, to the regret of many persons who had observed his political career with attention, who had noted his temper and[Pg 198] tact, his ability to speak, and what is too little regarded, his ability to be silent, and who had accurately judged that he possessed moral and intellectual qualities especially adapted for service in Parliament; he brought his political history to a close by accepting a judgeship in the Court of Queen’s Bench. In 1849 he was transferred to the Superior Court. Ten years afterwards he retired from the Bench, receiving the appointment of commissioner for the codification of the laws, on which he labored with untiring zeal until that prodigious work was brought to a satisfactory close in the year 1867. In 1865 he was appointed in connection with Mr. Chancellor Blake and Mr. Gustavus Wicksteed, the Law Clerk of the House of Commons, a commissioner for settling the amount of the subsidy to be paid to Railway Companies by Government for carrying the mails; and in 1868, as we have already mentioned, he was appointed under the British North American Act of 1867, arbitrator for the Province of Quebec.

Mr. Day has not restricted his services to matters which may be regarded as belonging to his profession or to his duties as a Judge. On the contrary, he seems to have been beset with a propensity to be useful, and to do good. Since 1857, for example, he has been the President and Chancellor of the University of McGill College, and has zealously sought to promote the welfare of that great institution. By way of giving variety to his occupations, he has been chosen and, we are informed, is now engaged in preferring certain claims of the Hudson’s Bay Company against the United States Government under the treaties of 1846 and 1863. Had we access to all the facts, more, we have no doubt, might be added, for we incline to think that Mr. Justice Day’s record is not only bright with industry and intelligence, but that it is heavily weighted with assumed, or imposed, burdens of honor or duty.

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The public taste, like individual taste, is variable as well as capricious. It is alleged, for example, that the originals of some of our portraits are so well known as to make copies matters of indifference. Let us, remark such objectors, look at the likenesses of men whom we have not seen, but of whom we frequently hear; who have won, or who are patiently winning their way to honors; let us see their shadows who have passed the critical point of public life which has been termed “getting the eye” of the Speaker and “the ear” of Parliament; who are regarded with esteem and listened to with attention; and whose decorous manner of discussing all questions is frequently referred to, and generally with approval. Some enquire for the photograph of the member for Lambton, and being, as we conjecture, impressed with the value of that gentleman’s political opinions, they very naturally plead for a likeness of his dashing commissary the eloquent member for West Durham. On the other hand old fashioned people of the “no surrender” type, whose opinions are not only formed, but fossilized, ask for “reflections” from their side of the House, the sunny side, perchance, where “old insurers run.” Give us, say they, the photograph of the member for the South Riding of Grenville; while others enquire for that of the representative of Welland; or mention a still younger scion of the Parliamentary family in the person of the member for Mississquoi. Curiosity very commonly clusters about unmarried people; the three last named gentlemen are bachelors and may on that account be regarded as objects of personal as well[Pg 200] as of Parliamentary interest. Fortunately it happens that the mere wish for a likeness not unfrequently falls in with our arrangements. We constantly have space for a portrait and no room for a sketch, and thus when we possess the former and have no data whereof to construct the latter, we are able to satisfy the public wish and our own convenience at the same time.

Mr. Walter Shanly, whose portrait precedes this sketch, represents the South Riding of Grenville, and, to quote from Mr. Morgan’s very useful Parliamentary Companions of 1864 and 1867, we learn that his family is of Celtic origin, and of great antiquity in the County of Leitrim. He was born at “The Abbey” in the parish of Stradbally in the Queen’s County, where his father, Mr. James Shanly, a member of the Irish bar, then resided. In 1836 the family arrived in Canada and took up their abode at Thorndale, in the County of Middlesex, in the Province of Ontario. Mr. Walter Shanly was educated by private tuition, and in due time became a civil engineer. His professional services were soon taken advantage of, for he was appointed resident engineer under the Department of Public Works, on the Beauharnois and Welland Canals from 1843 to 1848; engineer of the Prescott and Ottawa Railway from 1851 to 1853; engineer of the Western Division, between Toronto and Sarnia, of the Grand Trunk Railway from 1852 to 1859. Within the same period, from 1856 to 1858, engineer of the Ottawa and French River Navigation Surveys, and from 1858 to 1862, General Manager of the Grand Trunk Railway. He is President of the Mechanics’ Bank, Montreal, at which city he resides; and of the Edwardsburgh Starch Company. He is also a Director of the Kennebec Gold Mining Company. He was returned in 1863, for the County of Grenville, to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, and he continues to represent the South Riding of the same County in the House of Commons for the Dominion of Canada. His constituents on both occasions thoroughly appreciated the conservative inclination of his opinions, for they elected him by handsome majorities over his opponent.

[Pg 201]



The imposing free stone building at the westerly end of Great St. James Street, Montreal, is sufficiently distinguishable to excite attention and excuse inquiry. Its style of architecture, like the columns of variegated marble, appears to be Italian; square, solid, and substantial; it is apparently adapted to be a fit repository for wealth, and a fair representative of credit. The words “Molsons Bank” are legibly chiselled on the portico, while beneath, over the main entrance, and forming the keystone of the arched doorway, is a bas-relief portrait of the chief living representative of the family whose name the bank bears. The likeness is well preserved, and the expression of benevolence, including the encircling smile by which it is enclosed, have been well rendered by the artist, and well cut by the lapidary. The arabesques with which the building is enriched, are correspondingly suggestive. Plethoric moneybags, adroitly fashioned, with streams of coins issuing from their open mouths, are clearly cut on the face of the freestone blocks on either side of the bank door. Such emblems of specie payments are calculated to suggest a contrast between the bank and the beleaguered city in ancient story, whose inhabitants attempted a diversion under difficulties by displaying their moneybags and “making believe” that there were plenty more in the public chest. The architect has,[Pg 202] however, given a new reading of the old story, for he has caused the metaphorical bags on “Molson’s Bank” to express present not absent wealth, and emblematic coins cut in stone to represent actual coins cut at royal or republican mints.

Passing from such conceits to the subject of this sketch, we may observe that Mr. William Molson is the second son of the late Mr. John Molson, a gentleman of estate in the county of Lincolnshire, who, having settled in Lower Canada in 1782, established himself as a brewer at Montreal. The habit of drinking beer is more easily acquired than laid aside. Thus “Molson’s entire” seems to have been appreciated, for, though a liquid commodity, it became the solid foundation of the fortunes of the family. But Mr. Molson was not only the first of Canadian brewers, he was also the first steamboat owner in Canada. In 1809, the year after Fulton’s steamer began to ply on the Hudson, Mr. Molson started “The Accommodation” to trade between Montreal and Quebec. At his death, his steamship property fell chiefly to the share of his eldest son, Mr. John Molson, whose younger brothers, Messrs. William and Thomas Molson, succeeded to the extensive brewery and distillery establishments, which are still, we believe, carried on by members of the family.

In 1837, the wave of commercial disaster, which periodically flows from the United States, overspread the Provinces. The permanent stoppage of the weak banks, and the temporary suspension of specie payments by the strong banks of that adventurous people, obliged the banks of Canada to obtain authority to avoid for a limited time the redemption of their notes in gold. Paper equivalents for coin of all denominations above twenty-five cents became necessary, and the Molsons obtained permission from the Government to make such issues. The new notes, as we have been told, were wonderfully popular in the Canadian parishes; for the habitans had unlimited confidence in the firm which for years had purchased all the grain they could produce. Not only were[Pg 203] the notes never discredited, but, it is said, they were regarded with more favor and held with greater confidence than were the notes of some of the chartered banks. The experience of banking thus acquired in 1837 was not forgotten in 1853. Family interests had multiplied, and family wealth had increased, and hence “Molsons Bank” was established, firstly under the Free Banking Act, but in the next year under special charter. The new institution went into operation with a paid-up capital of one million of dollars, the greater part of which represented, if not the “loose change,” at least the unemployed cash of the Molson family. Unlike his father, or his elder brother, Mr. William Molson has generally declined to take a prominent part in politics or government. Not that he has shown any hesitancy in expressing his opinions, or any difficulty in choosing his side, but that public affairs possess very little attraction for him. He has preferred another and a surer path to happiness, if not to fame—a path wherein a good man may walk without any more unpleasant interruption than the thanks of those whom he succors, and the blessing of those whom he saves.

Mr. William Molson is a member of the senate of the University of McGill College, and he has selected that seat of learning to be one of the almoners of his bounty. It thus happens that the name of Molson is associated with the name of McGill. They are placed together upon the honor roll of the University, which the latter founded, and the former enriched. It is probable, too, that when future generations of the family shall have missed the link which connects them with the Canadian founders of their race, the name itself will survive all change of time and place, for it will be sacredly preserved in the statutes of the university, whose chair of English literature was founded by the benefactions of the three brothers, John, William, and Thomas Molson. In this place, however, it is more especially our business to speak of his liberality whose photograph prefaces our sketch. Nor is it difficult to do so, for could the stone and the timber, whereof the Library and Convocation[Pg 204] Hall, the corridors and class-rooms of McGill College, find a tongue, they would gracefully syllable his praise at whose cost they were built, and in whose honor they are named “The William Molson Hall.”

It is not our intention to speak of the good deeds which, like gold-colored crocuses, have incontinently crept out of their places of concealment to beautify the pathway of Mr. Molson’s life. Nevertheless there are acts of noble beneficence in his history which his injunctions could neither silence nor conceal. Two of the most picturesque churches, for example, in Montreal represent similar memorials of a devout affection. The handsome stone tower and spire of Trinity Church, at the eastern end of the city, is associated with Mr. William Molson, for it was erected by his wife to the glory of God and to the memory of a much beloved relative now no more. In like manner the stone tower and spire of the Church of St. James the Apostle, with its glorious finishing of stained glass windows, at the westerly end of Montreal, was erected by Mrs. Charles Phillipps of that city, to preserve from loss the name of one most dear to her, who rests with God. Like the late Mr. Richardson, and the late Chief Justice Read, Mr. Molson has not forgotten the sick and destitute. To comfort the former, he has very lately contributed five thousand dollars towards the endowment of the Montreal General Hospital; and to succor the latter he has co-operated with others like-minded in establishing “The House of Refuge.” Such acts, it is true, are but parts of the records of a good man’s life, and, we may add, the necessary fruits of vital Christianity. Here they are monuments that should be imperishable; and “in the world to come,” where “good deeds are had in remembrance,” they may win His recompense who deigns to accept service done “to the least” of the human brotherhood as service done to Him.

[Pg 205]



In Mr. Harvey’s valuable annual, The Year Book and Almanac of Canada for 1868, the subject of this sketch is credited with the statement, that from the year 1829 to 1866, 1,063,413 emigrants arrived at the port of Quebec from Europe, representing an average of 28,740 per annum. As Mr. Buchanan took charge of the office in 1835, and was appointed by the British Government, Chief Emigrant Agent, in succession to his uncle in 1838, it will follow, according to such average, that during the period of his incumbency, he was more or less connected with the personal history of over 900,000 emigrants. No doubt there are thousands of settlers in Canada who have a pleasing and in many instances a grateful recollection of the genial and high minded public officer who first welcomed them to the “land of the west;” who cheered them with kind words, nerved them with kind acts, and strengthened their resolves by making clear to them the way in which they might win independence for themselves, and happiness for their families in the noble Province to which they had come. But besides sensible advice, and official service, it would not be difficult, were it proper to do so, to supply examples without number of Mr. Buchanan’s private exertions to promote the welfare of those of whom it was his duty only to take public and official cognizance. What he did under such circumstances is neither chronicled in a newspaper, nor published in[Pg 206]“Blue books.” Nevertheless, such records are printed “in red letter,” and bound up in as many volumes as there were human hearts to receive and treasure their impressions. In fact, Mr. Buchanan contributed as much service to society, in the character of a philanthropist, as he did to the state in the capacity of an agent. The mere routine work of his office was heightened, and made picturesque by the benevolence with which it was embellished. It was a source of happiness to him to sacrifice much that he might assist all. He deeply sympathized with the crowded out populations of the old world, and rejoiced that there was room enough for them in the new. He loved Canada with a loyal love, and thoroughly believed that nothing was wanting to those, who with honest and good hearts, seriously meant to acquire the competence which, he knew, lay within their reach. In his useful tract published for the information of intending emigrants he wrote thus:

“The emblem of Canada is the Beaver, her motto,” ‘Industry, Intelligence and Integrity.’ These qualifications are required by all who desire to make honorable progress in life, and when possessed and put into practice, cannot fail to command success. Many of our wealthy inhabitants landed in the country without a friend to receive them, and with little beyond their own industrious habits to recommend them; and many, to whom the future looks unpromising, annually resort to our shores. But in Canada success is to be achieved by the poorest through honest labor. Willingness to work will ensure comfort and independence to every prudent, sober man. No promises of extravagant wages are held out, but a fair day’s wages for a fair day’s work, is open to every man in a country where the necessaries of life are cheap and abundant.”

Such may be taken as a specimen of the wholesome and practical counsel it was his habit to give to all whom he had the opportunity of influencing by his words. He frankly insisted that labor was the condition of success, and that temperance and patience were the best qualifications for labor. In his catechism for settlers there was no royal road to wealth; persevering industry and persistent continuance in well doing, were the conditions of prosperity. His representations were symmetrical, but unvarnished; for he was too natural in his character, and too pure in his tastes to gloss truth with tinsel, much less to substitute fiction for reality.

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As a public officer he was successful as well as painstaking. Local bodies marked their approval of his character, in the usual way, while the popular branch of the Legislature “cheerfully bore testimony to his conspicuous ability.” Nor in Canada only were his services marked with approval. His worth was appreciated in England, and valued in high quarters, as the following letter from Earl Grey dated Downing Street, 29th May, 1848, to His Excellency the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine will show:

I have the honor to acknowledge your Lordship’s despatch No. 43, of the 20th April last, accompanied by the Annual Report of the Chief Emigrant Agent, for the year 1847.

You will acquaint Mr. Buchanan that his usual punctuality and the great labor of the past year, as well as the illness from which, I was sorry to hear, he had suffered himself, in consequence of the sickness with which he was brought in contact, form an ample apology for his Reports arriving somewhat later this year than on former occasions, and I request that you will take this opportunity of acquainting Mr. Buchanan, that the care with which he annually prepares this statement, is fully appreciated, and that I attach much value to a document which, not merely affords to the Government the intelligence they most desire to possess, on the condition and distribution of such large bodies of Her Majesty’s subjects, but also lends assistance by supplying accurate information towards any improvements which it may be desired to introduce for the benefit of emigrants, generally.

The season of 1847-8, to which Earl Grey made allusion, will be remembered as a season of suffering and bereavement. The malignant and fatal “ship-fever” not only carried thousands of emaciated emigrants to their graves, but it filled a great many Canadian homes with mourning. Its malignant influence spread with fatal effect especially among those whom duty or charity brought within its reach. Mr. Buchanan was a brave man, and like his father, the British Consul at New York, was always actuated by that high sense of duty which took no thought of consequences; for no question of personal safety ever crossed the current of his exertions. The ship fever found him at his post, and the sick and dying immigrants found him at their sides. No wonder that the frightful disease fastened upon him with violence; and though it did[Pg 208] not slay him, it produced, so to speak, a blight on his constitution, from the effects of which he never thoroughly recovered. He escaped with his life; but, in the opinion of his physicians, with a life abbreviated by several years. It was to the illness thus acquired that Earl Grey so feelingly referred in his despatch to the Earl of Elgin.

We have only space to add that Mr. Buchanan was the son of Mr. James Buchanan, who, for nearly thirty years, filled the responsible office of British Consul at New York. Like his father, he was a native of the County Tyrone in Ireland, for he was born near Omagh, on Christmas-day, 1808. In 1815, he accompanied his family on a visit to England and France, and in the following year sailed with them to New York, where his father had been appointed Consul. In 1819, he went to Ireland for his education, which he received at a school in Derry. In 1825 he again returned to New York. After remaining there for three weeks he found his way to Canada, for the old flag was to him a talisman and an attraction, where, after some experience in commerce, he was placed on the staff of the Immigration Office at Quebec, and on the death of his uncle, the Emigrant Agent, he was appointed by the Home Government to succeed him, on the 1st July, 1838. In 1840 he married Charlotte, the fifth daughter of the Hon. Chief Justice Bowen, who, with several children survive him. He departed this life on the 3rd of February, 1868, deeply mourned by a large circle of relatives and friends, and kindly remembered from one end of Canada to the other by people whom, for the most part, he had probably forgotten. His was a fine example of a quiet, useful, unostentatious life. Those, who knew him, find it difficult to determine which most to admire, his public virtues or his private worth. To his intimates both are a pleasant retrospect; to his friends they are a precious possession; for many a day will pass ere “Carlisle Buchanan” will be forgotten in those quiet home circles which he made bright and happy by his presence.

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Mr. Ogden’s father, the Honorable Isaac Ogden, was a native of one of the old North American Provinces, who, at the revolution, sacrificed his possessions and bore arms for king and country. At the evacuation of New York by the royal troops, in 1783, he went to England. In the following year he arrived in Canada, and was appointed by Lord Dorchester to the office of Clerk of the Crown and Judge of the Admiralty Court, for the District of Montreal. In 1796 he was appointed Judge of the Superior Court. He married, firstly, Mary Brown, a young lady of Newark, by whom he had two daughters. Sarah, the elder, married Major Andrews, of the British Army, and Mary, the younger, continued to reside at Three Rivers, where she died, unmarried, in 1858. Mr. Ogden married, secondly, Sarah Hanson, of Livingston Manor, in the State of New York, by whom he had eleven children. Five died at an early age; those who survived were David, a barrister at Montreal; Peter, an officer of the Hudson’s Bay Company; Henry, who died in New York; Isaac, the Sheriff of Three Rivers, who died in 1867, Harriett Lawrence, who married the late General Evans, C.B., and Charles Richard, the subject of this sketch, who was born on the 6th of February, 1791. He was educated by the Rev. Mr. Doty of Three Rivers, and Mr. Skakel of Montreal, where he studied law. On being called to the bar, in 1812, he commenced his practice at Three Rivers. Subsequently he returned to Montreal, and entered into partnership with Mr. Buchanan of that city. The firm became eminent in the profession, and the members of it enjoyed a very[Pg 210] large and lucrative practice. We shall take advantage of the narrative of a friendly pen, wherein the chief points of a very active career are well grouped and pointed.

In 1815, he was elected a member of the Assembly for the town of Three Rivers, and continued to represent that constituency during seven successive Parliaments, and until he was advised by Lord Aylmer that, in the opinion of the Colonial Office, it would be better that the public officers of the Province should exercise “a cautious abstinence” from the great political questions of the day. On this very intelligible hint, Mr. Ogden being then H. M. Attorney-General, resigned his seat in the Assembly, and retired from political life, as he supposed, for ever. In 1815 he had received a silk gown from Sir Gordon Drummond, and in 1818, the Duke of Richmond had appointed him to act as H. M. Attorney-General for the District of Three Rivers. In 1823, Lord Dalhousie, in very flattering terms, recommended him for the office of Solicitor-General, and His Majesty was pleased to confer that office upon him, accordingly. In 1833, he was appointed Attorney-General for Lower Canada by King William the Fourth, and was re-appointed to that office by Her present Majesty, on Her accession to the throne. From the date of his appointment, until the year 1837, Mr. Ogden resided in Quebec; but in that year the breaking out of the rebellion made it his duty to proceed to Montreal, where he continued to reside until the union of the Provinces in 1841. In 1838, the constitution of Lower Canada was suspended by Act of the Imperial Parliament, and the Special Council for the affairs of that Province was created. As Attorney-General, and as a leading member of that Council, Mr. Ogden, who had in the meantime declined to accept the office of Chief Justice of the district of Montreal, offered him by the Earl of Durham, bore necessarily a large part in conducting the government of the country, under Sir John Colborne (afterwards Lord Seaton), the Earl of Durham and Mr. Poulet Thompson, (afterwards Lord Sydenham), and in the measures and proceedings necessary to bring into operation the Act for the Union of the Canadas, and to carry out its provisions, and he officially counter-signed the proclamation by which the two Provinces were made one on the l0th of February, 1841, the first anniversary of Her Majesty’s wedding-day. The opinions held at the Colonial Office had by this time undergone a remarkable change, and instead of being enjoined a “cautious abstinence” from politics, Mr. Ogden was informed by Lord Sydenham, that he was expected to take a most active part in them, to obtain a seat in the Legislative Assembly, and to form part of the Canadian Ministry; that his emoluments were to be reduced, and that he would have to reside at Kingston, the new seat of Government; and he was possibly not without a presentiment that his tenure of office might depend on the will of a parliamentary majority. These were not the terms upon which he had accepted office; they were hard, and he remonstrated against them; but he was told that H. M. Government held this change to be necessary to the success of the policy they[Pg 211] had adopted, and he submitted, and was again returned by his old friends, the electors of Three Rivers. He and his colleagues conducted the Government through the first session of the Parliament of United Canada, and brought that session to a successful close, introducing and carrying many important and useful measures. The untimely death of Lord Sydenham threw the administration of the Government upon Sir Richard Jackson, the Commander of H. M. Forces, from whom, after having made all the arrangements necessary for carrying out the legislation of the session, Mr. Ogden obtained leave of absence for six months, subsequently extended to a year, in order to make the voyage to Europe for the recovery of his health, which had suffered severely from the great labors and anxiety to which he had for several years been subjected. On his return, before his leave of absence had expired, he found that during that absence, he and the ministry, of which he formed part, had been removed from office by Sir Charles Bagot, and that Mr. Lafontaine and his friends held the reins of Government. He remonstrated, represented that he had accepted the appointment of Attorney-General, when the tenure of that office was virtually during good behavior, and claimed redress, but in vain. Sir Charles sent a message to the Legislative Assembly, recommending him for a super-annuation allowance of £625 per annum; but no motion was made to refer the message to the Committee of Supply, until the day next before that fixed for the prorogation, when it was met by an amendment that it should be considered in the next session, which, according to parliamentary usage, it could not be; and it was never renewed. Mr. Ogden felt that as a public man his connection with the Province was at an end. He retired to England and appealed to the Imperial Government, but was told that his claim was against that of Canada. His services were fully acknowledged and he was offered several colonial appointments of more or less value, which he declined; but having been, in a most flattering manner, called to the English bar, he eventually accepted the Attorney-Generalship of the Isle of Man, and was afterwards, upon the passing of the new Probate Act, in 1857, appointed to the office of District Registrar at Liverpool, and held both these appointments to the time of his decease. As a public officer Mr. Ogden performed his duties, often of the most arduous and trying nature, ably, fearlessly and impartially; and that he fulfilled them to the satisfaction of his Sovereign, and Her advisers, is manifest from the important offices successively conferred on him, and the high trust reposed in him and never disappointed. In the conduct of cases before the court of criminal jurisdiction he was singularly successful, and this mainly because, while he was earnest in enforcing the law, he never forgot that justice should be administered in mercy. As a member of the Assembly of Lower Canada he was bold and uncompromising in his advocacy of what he believed to be the right, speaking plainly what he thought in the face of overwhelming majorities, respected and even liked by its bitterest political opponent for his manliness and honesty, his frankness and good temper. On the dark and troublous days and deplorable events between 1837 and 1841, and Mr. Ogden’s relations to them, it is unnecessary to comment here: a quarter of a century has since passed away, and[Pg 212] we may leave them to the historian; he had a most difficult and painful duty to perform, and, we believe, few could or would have performed it better. Whatever differences of opinion may have existed as to the policy which he was called upon to carry out one thing at least is beyond a doubt—in the re-adjustment of affairs after the storm was past, he exerted himself strenuously to secure just rights to all classes of Her Majesty’s subjects. In private life Mr. Ogden was an amiable and estimable man, of a genial and fun-loving temperament, fond of frolic and happy at a joke. Kind and liberal to all under him or about him, and never forgetting a friend for a service rendered, he had that power most essential to a public man, and possessed most remarkably by the greatest, of distinguishing those able to do good service and attaching them firmly and affectionately to him. He was twice married; first to Mary, daughter of General Coffin, by whom he leaves no children living, and secondly to Susan, eldest daughter of the late Isaac Winslow Clarke, Deputy Commissary-General, then in charge in Montreal, and a niece of Mrs. John Singleton Copley, the mother of the late Lord Lyndhurst. By this lady, who died before him, Mr. Ogden leaves five children, four sons and a daughter, surviving him.—He died as he had lived, a sincere and pious member of the Church of England, in which he had been brought up from his infancy, and to which he was most firmly attached.

Lord Brougham, in a speech made in the House of Lords, is reported to have said that “harshness is but another name for injustice;” neither would it be necessary to travel very far to illustrate another truth, viz: that what may seem technically right is often morally wrong. For all practical purposes, and so far as precedent and usage might be supposed to afford sanctions, Mr. Ogden held his office of Attorney-General “during good behavior” and not “during pleasure.”

The principles by which colonies, for the most part, are now governed, did not obtain then, and it would therefore be in the last degree unfair to judge Mr. Ogden’s official services by a standard which did not then exist. There can be no doubt that, according to his view of duty and public policy, he most conscientiously sought to secure the integrity and advance the welfare of the country. When it was supposed that the public interests would be promoted by his observance of a “cautious abstinence” with respect to matters political, he very cheerfully retired from Parliament. Again, when he received the command of authority to[Pg 213] re-enter the Legislative Assembly, and take an active part in all political questions, he did not hesitate to do so, for his anxiety on both occasions was to serve his sovereign with fidelity, and his country with honor. A change, however, was about to take place which was calculated to weaken the tenure if not to destroy the value of his office. Mr. Baldwin’s famous resolution of September, 1841, by which government in future was to be carried on by a “Provincial administration” composed of men “possessed of the public confidence,” had been accepted by Parliament. It was fraught with fatal consequences to those who held high offices under the Crown. Mr. Ogden did not fail to recognize its importance with respect to his own appointment, for he abstained from voting on the occasion. There was intuitive fore-knowledge in such abstinence, as the first result of the resolution was a vote, which was tantamount to a vote of want of confidence in the administration of which he was the chief member from Lower Canada. His Excellency Sir Charles Bagot sought to pillow Mr. Ogden’s fall by stipulating that a pension should be granted to him. Mr. Lafontaine, who owed Mr. Ogden no good will, avoided a direct issue on that point by substituting the condition that the question should be “considered an open one.” The truth was that the two gentlemen were not only political, they were personal and representative enemies. Moreover, they had suddenly changed places, for Mr. Ogden’s claims were practically left to be adjudicated upon by Mr. Lafontaine. When it is borne in mind that the former had been the official prosecutor of the latter, for crimes alleged to have been committed during the troubles of 1837-38; that he was the civil head of the British party, and the prime counsellor of Lord Seaton in those energetic measures of repression which were deemed necessary by the Government of the day, then it may be questioned whether Mr. Lafontaine could have been severely impartial in dealing with the case. On their first accession to power, the French party shewed a disposition to punish in one way or another certain members of what had[Pg 214] theretofore been the governing race in Lower Canada. Mr. Ogden was one of those, and thus it chanced that he was furnished with the means of presenting an unusually strong case to the British Government. His arguments for redress were derived alike from the services he had rendered, and from the enmities which those services had provoked. His arrow was doubly barbed, and being skilfully as well as strongly aimed, it resulted in his appointment to two offices of a lucrative kind in the British Islands, which he filled with credit to the day of his death.

Mr. Ogden was, as the critic whose sketch we have introduced described him, a genial, fun-loving man. There was no asperity in his nature, though his jokes were frequently too practical to be pleasant, and too dramatic to be described. A steamboat trip from Quebec to Montreal in those days, was not the serious matter-of-fact journey it is now, and we incline to think that had a chronicler of ancient events accompanied the captain on those occasions, the narratives of the passages and passengers in the Accommodation, the Swiftsure, the Malsham, and the Lady Sherbrooke, as well as other vessels of more recent build, would include some noteworthy anecdotes of the Hon. Charles Richard Ogden. It is not easy to reproduce anecdotes whose point turns rather upon what was done, than on what was said, yet it is difficult to meet people in Lower Canada who have passed the meridian of life, without turning up the racy remains of Mr. Ogden’s jocularity, for vivid recollections are still extant of the amusing merriments which he contrived, or in which he bore a part. Let it be your good fortune to have a fireside gossip with Judge Black of Quebec, or your seat at dinner beside Mr. Bréhaut of Montreal, or to spend an evening with Colonel Coffin, or Mr. Wicksteed at Ottawa, and the chances are that some of the raciest stories will take their rise in his amusing pleasantries. One of many occurs to us, which we shall relate as nearly as possible in the words of Mr. Ogden; albeit the task is not easy, for he resembled Hook and other[Pg 215] humorists of that type. People have a more distinct recollection of their own laughter than of his words.

“Shortly after the war in 1815, at a time when many conspicuous Bonapartists had transported themselves to America, Mr. Ogden visited the States with a party among whom was Judge Fouché of Montreal, well known for his eccentricities. On the Delaware, they encountered a Philadelphian editor, “travelling for patterns.” Editors were their own correspondents in those days, and the drab-coloured gentleman in question was not slow in making the acquaintance of the foreign party, as he supposed, since most of them spoke French. By degrees, his curiosity growing with what it fed on, he endeavoured to find out their names; and to this end had recourse to the baggage. Suddenly he turned upon Ogden all agape, “Fouché, my stars! What Fouché? Fouché, the Duke of Otranto! the Minister of Police! the most obnoxious of the exiles!” “Hush!” exclaimed Ogden, with an expressive gesture, “hush! for God’s sake, don’t betray him; you are a gentleman and a man of honor, if one of those Bourbonist barbers in Philadelphia got hold of him, he would cut his throat before night. Since you’ve got the secret, pray keep it like a gentleman.” Of course he did, for the evening journal teemed with paragraphs, personal, historical, and analytical. Scarcely had the foreign party got to their hotel when down came the town band with a serenade. The Mayor and Corporation followed with an address. The most influential inhabitants thronged in: “God bless your Royal Highness! How’s your health? How’s Bonaparte, hope he’ll soon be back,” and the ladies, too, they could not miss such a chance, a real Duke, a Prime Minister, and an exile to boot! Presentations were a furore, for everyone wished to get a glimpse of a man so famous and so famed. Among other eccentricities, Fouché, the Montreal Judge, was curious in wigs; he owned a series, a wig for every day in the week, and a special brown bob for Sundays. On that eventful night, the whole set disappeared, and it was surmised that every feminine leader of ton in the drab colored capital gloried in the possession of a lock of the Duke of Otranto’s hair. As for the pseudo Minister of Police, who was naturally a quiet, unassuming man, he was driven frantic. Besides the loss of his wigs he had honestly owned to the name of Fouché. Consequently, his protests and disclaimers as to his identity with the Duke of Otranto were utterly useless. All such denials were attributed to the craft or modesty of the minister, and, therefore, the worthy judge, finding that the populace would make him a Duke, in spite of himself, broke away from his hotel, and bolted into the street, taking refuge at length in the Bank of the United States, which being then in a state of insolvency, was safe from the intrusions of the Philadelphians.”

No doubt Mr. Ogden possessed strong natural abilities, and a correspondingly strong will. He was morally courageous and physically brave, for he neither shrank from responsibility nor shunned[Pg 216] danger when duty required him to meet either. He knew how to choose men to work for him, and like Mr. Hincks, he appreciated such services, and made much of those who rendered them. Though a Tory of the old school, yet when unembarrassed by considerations of public policy, he could play a liberal part with unquestionable zest. Thus, for example, when the bill for the removal of Jewish disabilities in Lower Canada, drawn, as we have heard, by Mr. Black, was introduced by Mr. Andrew Stuart, in the Legislative Assembly, it received his most cordial support. However, such exceptional cases did not materially change his general conduct or his particular opinions. From the commencement of his career he had been required to assert certain principles and resist a certain party, and he continued to do so to the last. The contest resulted unfavorably to him, and as he contemplated his overthrow, he felt that there was nothing left but to retire from the scene of his defeat. In leaving Canada, he left many warm friends and some enthusiastic admirers, who deeply regretted his departure, but he accurately appreciated the situation, and took his course accordingly. In England he had influential friends, and in Lord Lyndhurst a patron of no inconsiderable power. After some time, as we have elsewhere stated, his claims received consideration, and he was honored by the Crown with lucrative appointments which he held to the day of his death. Age, perchance, mellowed the recollection, but it did not make him oblivious of his earlier days in Canada. Friendship with him was the wine of life, and it was his most enjoyable dessert when he met with one with whom he could tell twice-told tales and crack anew the unforgotten jokes that had made laughter hold both her sides from one end of his native province to the other. His cheerful, kindly nature only capitulated at the latest assault of time. Decay “came like a tranquil moonlight o’er him,” and he laid down life’s burden in the month of February, 1866, and in the seventy-fifth year of his age.

[Pg 217]



“Was he High Church or Low Church, or what was his school? I shall be very glad if, after perusing this volume, the reader should declare himself unable thoroughly to answer this question. To say the truth, he could not be identified with any party; his doctrinal views were in loyal and affectionate conformity with the Book of Common Prayer; but I do not remember to have heard him discuss with earnestness any of the controversial questions of the day. The view of religion which commended itself to his mind was the practical application of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to the wants of men; and the best method of doing this was, in his opinion, a simple and faithful adherence to the principles and rules of the Prayer Book. I never met with a more sincere Christian, or one who had less of the spirit of party. I never met with a man whose religious system seemed to be more completely within the four corners of the Book of Common Prayer. For religious speculation he had little taste—for religious eccentricities he had an utter abhorrence; but if there was any deed to be done, any work of mercy to be performed, either for the bodies or the souls of men, then his whole heart was engaged. To go about doing good was the only employment that he thoroughly and unreservedly loved.”—Dean Goodwin’s Impressions of Bishop Mackenzie.

At the time of the rebellion of the thirteen American Provinces, there was no Bishop of the Anglican Church on the American continent. In 1784 the clergy of Connecticut elected the Rev. Samuel Seabury to be their Bishop. But that estimable man having sought and failed to obtain consecration at Lambeth, turned from the affluent church of England, to the “Suffering and Episcopal church of Scotland,” from whose poor and despised Bishop he received his mitre. Thus it happened that the first[Pg 218] Bishop of the Episcopal church in the United States received consecration at the hands of the Bishops of the Episcopal church of Scotland. Previous to the independance of the United States, all church organization in that country was out of the question, and Episcopal ordinances, as a matter of course, were never administered. In 1789, the Bishopric of Nova Scotia was created, and on the 7th July, 1793, the Right Rev. Jacob Mountain was consecrated the first Bishop of Quebec. Shortly afterwards, accompanied by his wife and their four children, her two sisters, his elder brother, his wife, and their children, the new prelate embarked, and after a voyage of thirteen weeks, as the biographer[2] quaintly observes, “the thirteen Mountains arrived at Quebec on All Saints’ day.” The cargo, to continue the phraseological pleasantry, was exceptional; but as England and France were then at war, it is probable that the unusual delay was due to the fact that the ship was a convoy, or that she sailed under convoy, and not to the load of Mountains with which she was freighted. The fleet of merchant ships which accompanied the Bishop to the seat of his Bishopric, in all probability carried many a French royalist, both priest and layman, to the shelter of British soil. It was a curious reversal of the exodus of the previous century, and well calculated to provoke the thought it received and the charity it produced. No wonder that the Anglican Bishop, on his arrival, was met by the Gallican Bishop, and made welcome with a kiss on both cheeks. The representatives of the two churches received one another with the courtesy which, under the circumstances, might have been expected from gentlemen and prelates of the churches of England and France.

George Jehoshaphat, the second son, was born on the 27th July, 1789, and on the 28th of March, 1796, the following entry occurs[Pg 219] in the journal: “This day George began his latin grammar.” At the age of sixteen he was sent with his elder brother, both of whom had previously been confirmed by their father, to Little Easton, in the county of Essex, England; where under the clergyman of the place, they pursued their studies until they entered Trinity College, Cambridge; where the younger brother took his degree in 1810. He then became a candidate, but failed to obtain a fellowship at Downing College. However, he acquitted himself so well, that the then Professor of Greek, Dr. Monk, afterwards Bishop of Gloucester, and one of his examiners, expressed the wish to recommend him to the office of Principal of a college in Nova Scotia, for which that prelate, speaking from his own observation of his scholarship, thought him to be especially fitted.

In the following year, 1811, he returned to Quebec, and became secretary to, and studied for the holy ministry under the guidance of his father. On the 2nd of August, 1812, he was admitted by the latter to deacon’s orders, and at once appointed to assist his cousin, the Rev. Salter Mountain, at that time the clergyman of the parish and the chaplain of the Bishop. In the following year, 1813, he attended the Bishop on his triennial visitation of the diocese. His uncle, the Bishop’s elder brother, was the resident clergyman at Montreal, and at the period of this visitation, there were only seven clergymen in Lower Canada, four of whom bore the name, and belonged to the family of Mountain.

On the 16th of January, 1814, the deacon of the previous year was admitted to priest’s orders, and on the 18th of the same month he was licensed as evening lecturer at the cathedral. On the 2nd of August following, being the anniversary of his ordination, the Quebec Gazette, as we have little doubt, announced that the Rev. G. J. Mountain was married by the Bishop to Mary Hume, the third daughter of Deputy Commissary General Thompson. Immediately after his marriage he went to Fredericton, where he had[Pg 220] previously been appointed rector by the Bishop of Nova Scotia, and where, after his arrival, he received the further appointments of chaplain of the troops and chaplain of the Legislative Council.

We do not know in what way the newly-married pair were received at the rectory, or how the rector was inducted, but the manner of their approach to the town was the reverse of ostentatious, and bore no marks of either “carnal vanity” or worldly display. Having, for example, arrived at St. John by a somewhat eccentric geographical course, the travellers supposed that the rest of their way would have been tolerably smooth and free from impediments. But the chapter of adventure was destined to finish consistently. There were no steamships in those days, and therefore advantage had to be taken of any craft the travellers could find to convey them to Fredericton. But the little vessel in which they ascended the river was unequal to the journey, as it went ashore ten miles below the wished-for haven. There was nothing for it but to push on as best they could. Having, therefore, after the manner of itinerant hay-makers, put up a small bundle of clothing for immediate service, the new rector and his young wife landed on the contiguous shore, and looked about them, if not for succor, at least for transport. A small floating contrivance, which answered the purpose of a ferry, was at length discovered, and, to use a Hibernicism, being manned by two black women of marine tastes and muscular qualifications, the travellers were at length landed at the desired haven. Under such exceptional auspices did the Rector of Fredericton take possession of his rectory.

After residing there nearly three years he returned to Quebec, and received on his arrival the appointments of “Bishop’s Official” and what was called “Officiating clergyman of Quebec,” for it was not until 1821 that the parish was erected by letters patent, and consequently, it was not until then, that he properly became the rector. In the last mentioned year he was appointed Archdeacon[Pg 221] of Lower Canada. From the time of his return to Fredericton, we may, in a more especial manner, date that career of charity and piety which was evermore to be associated with his memory, and which was to end only with his life. He commenced wisely, for his earliest act was to establish intimate relations with the Venerable Societies for promoting Christian knowledge, and for propagating the Gospel. To this end, he lost no time in appointing a diocesan committee, in connection with the committee of the first mentioned society. His second act was to establish at Quebec, national schools for girls and boys. Early in January, 1818, he commenced as a simple missionary, and afterwards continued as Archdeacon, to visit the out-lying portions of the diocese. Such work he found to the end of his career to be full of attraction and encouragement, for in heart and soul, he was the beau ideal of a missionary.

In 1819, on his father’s recommendation, he received the degree of D.D., from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and in the same year he was appointed by the government, a member of “The Board for the advancement of learning in Canada,” in which capacity he visited and inspected schools. In July, 1820, he accompanied the Bishop in what was his first, and his father’s last, visitation of the Upper Canada portion of the diocese. The physical, moral, and social changes wrought in fifty years are sufficiently striking, but the primitive state of the Province at the period referred to may be gathered from a trifling incident that was noted by Mr. Mountain at Cornwall. Finding it troublesome to call for his servants, the Bishop said to “the maid at the inn,” “Pray, is there any bell here?” “Yes, Sir.” “Where is it?” “Sir,” said the maid, with unaffected simplicity, “it is in the Church.” A house bell apparently belonged to a state of civilization that Cornwall had not then reached. It was in the course of his earliest Archdeaconal visitation he met with the Honorable and Rev. Dr. Stewart, a man of noble birth, gentle manners, and simple piety, whose “praise is in all the Churches.”

[Pg 222]

Without ostentation or display, in the quietest manner and for the purest ends, Dr. Stewart had left scenes and associations which are commonly regarded as among the prime charms of life, for the purpose of converting the Indians of Canada from the errors of a pagan’s creed, and of instructing the more savage whites of the wild woods, the trappers and hunters of the new world, in the principles of the Christian’s faith. Between men of such gentle tastes, such humble minds, and such ripe religious principles, a friendship arose which was as beautiful as it was pure. Like all good works, that friendship was continued as it was begun, in singleness of purpose and sincerity of heart; and in after years, when it passed from a fact to a recollection, the touch of death did not quench its glow or the silence of the grave extinguish its glory; for, as we have heard, to the latest moment of his life, Bishop Mountain was accustomed to speak of Bishop Stewart in tones of holy rapture, not only as a Saul among the prophets, but also as a chief among friends. It is beautiful to note how thoroughly the alloy of mere worldly ambition was exorcised and expelled from the hearts and minds of those saintly men: each seemed to desire the other’s elevation and his own abasement, for both were content “to be abased” as neither of them wished to be exalted. If any rivalry existed it was the rivalry of humiliation, for each seemed to be only anxious that the other should be preferred to the Bishopric. Thus, when the plan of separating the Diocese fell through, and when Dr. Stewart succeeded to the undivided See, he was unremitting in his efforts to obtain as his suffragan his loved and cherished friend, the subject of this sketch.

The Clergy Reserve question was, as a matter of course, a question of great, though, in territorial extent, not of equal value to the Anglican Church in Lower Canada as it was in Upper Canada. But the principal was the same in both Provinces, and the agitation and settlement of the matter included, as early as the year 1822, the duty of sending to England a representative of the rights of[Pg 223] the Church, and the claims of her ministers. The Archdeacon, Dr. Mountain, had been designated to that duty, but for sufficient reasons he obtained leave to excuse himself, and at the same time to impose the responsibility on Dr. Stewart. In truth such services, though undertaken as matters of duty, were in the highest degree distasteful to him, for he was constitutionally disinclined to contend or strive for mere temporalities. Nevertheless, such disinclination was not allowed to master him, for he wrote “I am unalterably convinced, however, of the duty lying upon us to keep watch and ward in defence of our Zion, and to sally out, if the proceedings of the other party render it necessary. But it would seem to human weakness a happier lot for a clergyman to have, as Chillingworth says, ‘no enemies but the devil and sin.’ Mine seems so different a case that I shall be fit for ‘treasons, stratagems, and spoils,’ if I continue to be exercised in the sort of struggles to which our Church is exposed.” The exercise, unfortunately for his peace, was continued for years, but the qualifications playfully referred to were never attained. There was no guile in his nature and strife was foreign to his taste. He was not an adept in the use of mere secular weapons. The serpent could not lodge in a nature where the dove only had made her nest. This may have been, perhaps it was, a misfortune as well as a weakness, but nevertheless it was a grace the more beautiful for its rarity, and a virtue the more excellent for the difficulty of its attainment. With respect to the late Bishop, his biographer says the necessary forms of business were distasteful to him; he shrank from “diplomacy” and shunned “Parliamentary” or other work that required address for its performance or adroitness for its success.

In 1821, on the arrival of the charter of McGill College, Montreal, the Bishop, believing it to be his duty so to do, submitted a plan for its establishment as a university. This plan received the approval of two Governors-in-Chief, the Duke of Richmond and the Earl of Dalhousie. The recommendation of[Pg 224] the Archdeacon, the subject of this sketch, for Principal, was not only cordially approved of by those noblemen, but it was heartily commended by the Lieut. Governor of Upper Canada, Sir Peregrine Maitland, as well as by other persons of mark in both Provinces. Two years afterward, the Archdeacon was nominated Honorary Professor of Divinity and Principal of the College, which office he held until 1835.

In the year 1825, by desire of his father, and at the request of the Clergy Reserve corporations of Upper and Lower Canada, the Archdeacon again went to England. His chief object was to represent the claim of the Anglican Church in the matter of the Clergy Reserves, but incidentally he was to express his father’s pious wish to be relieved of a portion of the cares of his Bishopric. To this end he was instructed to suggest that the extensive Diocese of Quebec, which represented almost half a continent, should be separated in two parts, and each part erected into a separate Bishopric. The alternative, in case such a plan should be considered objectionable, was to recommend the Rev. Dr. Stewart to be associated with his father in the administration of the See. In either case, Bishop Mountain offered to relinquish £1,000 per annum, of his official income, as his contribution towards the much desired object. Whether such a plan would have been carried out or not, does not clearly appear, as during the currency of the negotiation, the high minded prelate, at whose instance it was mooted, found relief in the rest that comes to all. He departed this life on the 18th June, 1825, unattended, as the narrator adds, with filial pathos, by any of his sons.

The death of Bishop Mountain relieved the English ministry of the responsibility of doing something, and afforded them the delicious leisure, which they thoroughly enjoy, of letting things alone. The physical pleas of age and infirmity might have provoked kindness as well as sympathy, when the higher moral considerations it is to be feared would have had no influence in moving them to[Pg 225] action. In the former case, from sheer humanity they might have endeavored, and possibly with little delay, to do their duty towards man, while in the latter, from motives of convenience, they would have postponed any effort to do their duty towards God. Death cut the knot which diplomacy had not untied, and reversed, so to speak, the obligations of the hour. Instead of troubling themselves to consider how assistance should be given to an aged Bishop, they only felt themselves called on to find a more youthful successor, whose physical strength would place him beyond the requirements of physical assistance. In choosing Dr. Stewart as such successor, the authorities probably considered that they had found one in all respects suited to the office.

Ten years passed away when, in 1835, the Archdeacon was again sent to England, the objects being the same as those which made his former visit necessary; namely, the settlement of the Clergy Reserve question, and the necessity of procuring further Episcopal assistance in the diocese. Bishop Stewart had broken down and in turn needed help. He was most anxious that the Archdeacon, whom he dearly loved and affectionately called his “right hand,” should be appointed suffragan. The latter was more than disinclined to accept the duty, for his desire from first to last was to serve and not to rule. He only yielded when Bishop Stewart emphatically declared he would have no one else. His consecration as coadjutor took place on the 14th January, 1836, under the title of the Bishop of Montreal. Ten days after his arrival from England, Bishop Stewart was compelled by illness to go there; and he never returned to Canada, for becoming gradually weaker he entered into rest in the month of July, of the following year, 1837. Thus, in spite of every effort to the contrary, the subject of this sketch became the third Bishop in succession of the undivided Diocese of Canada.

We shall take advantage of the Bishop’s address to the Synod in[Pg 226] 1860, wherein we may learn much from his Lordship’s modest but suggestive review of the past.

“The first Anglican Bishop of Quebec, within the life time of the more aged men among us, began his task with nine clergymen for the whole of Canada, and after thirty-two years, left the Diocese, upon his decease, with sixty-one, having three Archdeacons and two Corporations of the Clergy, in Upper and Lower Canada respectively, for the management of the Clergy Reserves. His successor, whose Diocese was also co-extensive with the whole of Canada, raised the number in ten years of Apostolic labor, to eighty-five. That was the state of the charge upon which I entered twenty-four years ago. Since that date Canada has been divided into four Dioceses: Upper Canada or Canada West, now comprehending the two Dioceses of Toronto and Huron, was under my Episcopal supervision, as administering that of Quebec, for three years, during which I was enabled to add nineteen clergymen to the number of fifty-one which I had found within those limits. In that portion of Lower Canada which now constitutes the Diocese of Montreal, the number was raised during its continuance under my direction for a space of fourteen years, from seventeen to forty-eight. From causes already indicated, independently of the larger amount of Church population, the advances which I was permitted to make in this way in parts of Canada, which are no longer within my jurisdiction, were greater than I have made in that which now constitutes the Diocese of Quebec, where the increase, in my hands, has been in twenty-four years, from seventeen to fifty. The whole increase in Canada, within my own proper administration, (not noticing what has occurred in any of its ecclesiastical divisions and subdivisions after their passing out of my hands), has been from eighty-five to one hundred and sixty-five.

“My venerated predecessors in the See are too well remembered to make it necessary for me to disclaim any pretentions which, if I had the smallest disposition to advance them, would readily be open to repudiation, to equal myself in the discharge of my office with them. But it has been so ordained to befall, that the Church should not, till after my assumption of the episcopal charge, reach that stage in which she began to form her permanent institutions and provide her settled organizations within the Diocese. I entered upon my charge in the latter half of the year 1836. The Church Society was established in 1842, and incorporated in 1844; its objects and its operations are too well known to all who are present, to need any notice here from me. The Church Temporalities Act having been reserved for the Royal Assent, finally became law in 1843. The corner stone of the College was laid in 1844; the College was open in buildings temporarily occupied in 1845; the Royal Charter conferring upon it the privileges of a University, was procured in 1853; the junior department consisting of a first rate school, was opened in 1858; the whole institution is still, in a manner, in its infancy, and will never be exempt from imperfections attaching to all things here below, but it has now four efficient professorships (including that which is immediately connected [Pg 227]with the junior department)—a library of between four and five thousand volumes, the promising commencement of a museum, and a chapel which may be cited as an architectural pattern. Of the fruits of the institution I forbear to speak....

“The Bishopric Endowment Fund was formed in 1846, being the appropriation for that object of a block sum which, together with a certain amount of annual revenue made available, at the same time, towards the payment of some of the Clergy, was at the disposal of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. It was conceived important to secure the permanent support of an office which is essential in the Church, and which was almost the only one for which there was no prospect, upon the occurrence of a vacancy, of any provision. And it may be proper to state here, because some misconception has existed upon the subject, that not one clergyman in the Diocese was made a loser by a single shilling in consequence of this particular appropriation.”

Such a record of service is well enough calculated to excite admiration, but after all it merely informs us of what Dr. Mountain had been able to accomplish since his succession to the Bishopric, for it tells us very little of what he had previously done as Rector and Archdeacon of Quebec. Nothing is said of the parish institutions which had been mainly called into existence by his zeal, and placed on a permanent foundation, partly by his contributions, but chiefly by his care—schools for youth, asylums for orphans, homes for the aged, and clothing societies for the poor. It tells us nothing of his ministerial duties, his four services on Sundays, and his miscellaneous works of charity on week days. Such work as could only have been accomplished by one who had reduced zeal to a system, and had organized his labors, like his charity, on the principle of doing the greatest possible good to the greatest possible number of people.

Again, as we read the account supplied by his biographer of his heroic charity during those terrible seasons of plague and pestilence which, commencing at Quebec, swept over Canada, we seem almost to realize the dramatic portraitures of the sacred Scriptures. In thought, we behold the commissioned minister of the Most High standing between the living and the dead, if not to stay the plague, at least to point the plague-smitten to Him who had taken the sting from death. The immigrant station at Grosse Isle had[Pg 228] been set apart as the receiving place for those who arrived in the pest ships from Europe in the cholera years of 1832-34. The grave-yard of the Island was rapidly filled. The disease seemed to leap from place to place, and having fastened itself like a firebrand in Quebec, it spread over the city like a flame. When the cholera broke out in 1832, the population of that city amounted to twenty-eight thousand; by the end of July, that is to say, in about two months time, two thousand eight hundred had died. On two consecutive days in June, upwards (thus loosely the record reads) of seventy-five persons were buried by the Rector. Nevertheless, amidst such harassing duty, provision was made for further service. A horse was kept saddled day and night in his stable to enable him, or his assistant in the parish, to attend to people who resided at a distance from him. Many nights, says his biographer, they were both out, and for whole days together unable to return. Again, in 1847, the ship fever, the fatal product of famine in Ireland, was imported into Canada. The Anglican clergy, who were few in number, with devoted zeal, took their duty at Grosse Isle week about, the Bishop taking the first week. Most of the clergy sickened, and two of them died of the fever. The trial, we may well imagine, was acute enough, for in the summer of 1847, upwards of five thousand interments took place in the Island. “No one liveth to himself or dieth to himself,” wrote the heroic Bishop. There was a chivalry in his nature which communicated its energy to all. Like a divine afflation it animated every heart, turning all, whether Priests or Levites, into “Good Samaritans.” Fear was exorcised and cast out by love; and love being the twin of faith, found joy in duty. Exaggerations either of fact or of metaphor, were equally offensive to the Bishop, but as he has passed away, we may say now what could not have been said then, that, like the captives of old, though in another sense, he seemed to walk through the fever furnace of that terrible season, without smell or taint of harm having touched him.[Pg 229] This spirit of self-sacrifice always shone in his character, and unquestionably added virtue, as well as beauty, to his life. When, for example, the Church Missionary Society was desirous of establishing a Bishopric in the heart of the Red River Country, he was the prelate to whom that society applied to take the exploring journey of nine thousand miles. Doubtless he was happy to go, for the work was precisely that in which his soul found comfort. He taught, and prayed with Indians and half-breeds, and laid the foundation of a permanent Bishopric. In his bark canoe, or beneath the forest shade, he wrote and, perchance, sang his Songs of the Wilderness, a collection of small poems which are bright with beautiful thoughts. Again, some years later, when a difficulty was found to exist with respect to the appointment of a Bishop of Sierra Leone, in consequence of the climate having proved rapidly fatal to more than one occupant of the See, he wrote to the secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to know whether the difficulty had been surmounted; his reason for doing so, as he told his son, was that he intended to offer himself for the post that “he might wipe away the reproach from the Church of England.”

The records of such a life increase our admiration of the nature in which that life was clothed. Nevertheless admiration is qualified with astonishment, and even reverence is ruffled with pain. It is impossible to forget how sorely his good work was hindered by some who, nevertheless, affected a deeper spirituality and a more intense devotion than this peerless Christian minister. Christ and his church were, it is no exaggeration to say so, the “alpha and the omega,” the beginning and the end, the all and in all of his life. Hence the ordeal of reproach and resistance through which he was required to pass must have been a cruel trial for him to bear. But the beauty of his character on no occasion, as we think, shone more brightly than when it was subjected to these special trials. For the Bishop was too earnest a man not to respect[Pg 230] earnestness. He was too learned a man not to be tolerant to ignorance. He was too wise a man not to make allowance for prejudice. He knew that earnestness and ignorance and prejudice, like their opposites, were powers which no ruler could make light of, much less despise. His pious wish was to blend knowledge with virtue, and thus by overcoming ignorance to purify and direct it to the best uses. Two trivial incidents within the writer’s recollection will illustrate the Bishop’s forbearance and tact as well as his patience and courtesy. The annual report of the Church Society had been written for the secretary of the society, who was then too ill to discharge the usual duty in person, and being approved of by the Bishop, was submitted, as was the custom, to a meeting of the Central Board of that society, that it might be confirmed by it before it was presented to the annual meeting. Objections of an irritating and frivolous kind were taken to the report. The Bishop did not rebuke the objectors, but, with great meekness of tone and manner, answered their puerile objections. The critics, in point of fact, had no cause for criticism, and they merely shewed temper, and lost tact, in their search for one. A very respectable presbyter, for example, suddenly jumped up, and, apparently laboring under the impression that every product of the pen should either drip with pulpit unction, or be dredged with pulpit phrases, exclamed (the words are not our words), “Well my Lord, it would be more satisfactory if the report said less about the church and more about Christ.” The observation, of course, provoked a smile which few could suppress, and had the subject been less solemn the smile would have been less subdued. But levity on such an occasion, it may well be supposed, was foreign enough to the reverent mind of the Bishop. With surprising forbearance, and without any irony of manner or acidity of speech, he explained to the petulant presbyter that the Church Society was an organization wholly and solely established to teach mankind “more about Christ” and His salvation. The objectors had not exhausted[Pg 231] their objections. Incidentally the report in question spoke of the sacraments as the “sacraments of grace,” whereupon a very earnest, well-meaning gentleman rose to his full height, and with ludicrous indignation exclaimed, “My Lord, I have heard of the sacrament of baptism and of the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, but I never heard of a sacrament of grace!” The Bishop did not say in stern English what his western brother might have said in broad Scotch, “Sit down, sir, you are talking nonsense,” but with great patience and courtesy he dropped his words of kindness, like soothing oil, on the bright bald head of the objector, and explained to him in the words of the catechism, as he might have done to a wayward child, that the sacraments being “outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace,” were conventionally, and with great propriety, called “sacraments of grace.” Again on the “Surplice question,” the Bishop had been much pressed by a section of his clergy to make an order to the disadvantage of the black gown. Personally he preferred that divine worship should be celebrated in one vestment only, and that one the surplice. The absence of disquieting interruptions, and the greater simplicity of the canonical direction, harmonized with the lowliness of his character, and perhaps, also, with his recollections of the village usage that, time out of mind, had been observed in many of the country parts of England. But what may have been lawful was not by him deemed to be expedient. The law of the church seemed clear enough, but the usage of her ministers had not been uniform. The use of the black gown is probably as much attributable to pride as to principle, for in some parts of England at least, they were chiefly the beneficed clergy, who could afford to do so, who preached in silk, and not the curates, who were too poor to use any other than the linen vestments which the law obliged the churchwardens to provide. However, the gown had acquired a sort of prescriptive right to be considered. The Bishop was a lover of peace as well as a lover of good men, and therefore he declined to dignify a ridiculous dispute with an episcopal[Pg 232] direction. It was not for such causes that he would exasperate the weakness of a clergyman or imperil the quiet of the church. At least one presbyter of his diocese, for example, was beset with eccentric opinions on this particular subject which he took no small pains to exhibit. Apparently he liked a variety of dress and thought it charming. On occasion he would appear in five changes of raiment in the course of a morning service. The varieties were accomplished in this way. He did not approve of sitting in the chancel in his surplice, or of sitting in his pew without a gown—but in carrying out his objections he mingled lessons of thrift with lessons of theology; for like Gilpin’s wife, he had “a frugal mind;” therefore he wore an old black gown for the depressed service of the pew, and a new black gown for the exalted service of the pulpit. Thus, when the Holy Communion was celebrated, and it happened to be his duty to preach, he twice changed his black gown for the surplice, and twice changed his surplice for some other kind of dress. Though such transformations smack of ritual, they were merely fond conceits, for he who indulged them, like most English Churchmen, had no relish for ritualistic whimsicalities. Such vagaries were more foolish than hurtful and quite beneath the notice of one who, like the Bishop, was too much in earnest about things spiritual to waste his advice on the cut of a vestment, the turn of a tippet, or the color of a robe.

The Bishop’s great humility of character, combined with his repeatedly expressed preference for the private station, gave rise to an opinion, more especially among his clergy, which, we think, was more general than accurate, that “he was but an indifferent administrator.” The narrative of his life does not sustain this opinion, for though sorely tried, and adroitly assailed, there is no evidence with which we are acquainted of his having spoken unadvisedly or acted indiscreetly. Neither can we discover wherein his adversaries triumphed over him. On the contrary, the seal of success appears to have been most legibly stamped on his labors. The[Pg 233] wisdom of his rule was perhaps more real than apparent, for it was felt rather than seen. At all events he did not govern too much, or interfere capriciously with either clergy or laity. The Huguenot heritage of religious liberty was not repudiated by the heir of a Huguenot. There was breadth as well as depth in his character. His thoughts harmonized with his actions, and both were generous as well as pure. His heart warmed towards goodness, and it was especially sympathetic towards sincerity. Devout men were gladly welcomed and encouraged to work in his diocese, even though their views on certain matters of doctrine were by no means identical with his. Then, to his honor be it spoken, he appreciated the freedom of the Anglican Church. He was neither a sectarian nor a political Bishop, and hence a man’s relation to the church was never represented by him as in any way dependent on his belonging to a party in the state. As Dean Goodwin wrote of Bishop Mackenzie, few asked if the Bishop of Quebec were “High church” or “Low church,” for his work was catholic, and meant for mankind and not for a party. It consisted of such work as the Baptist performed when he preached repentance, and of such work as Chillingworth referred to when he said that a clergyman should have no enemies but “the devil and sin.” One text, his son informs us, found frequent place in his sermons, and it was almost always printed in capitals: “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” His ceaseless aim was to foil the great Tempter of mankind. His means were faith and obedience, and his medicine self denial and prayer.

But we must pass on, since our space places a restraint on our inclination. During the meeting of Synod in July, 1862, a resolution of an anticipatory character, was, with great propriety, moved by Mr. W. S. Wurtele, and seconded by the Rev. J. W. Williams, to make arrangements for a Jubilee service on the 2nd of the following month, when the Bishop would complete the fiftieth year of his ministry. We may observe that Mr. Williams was at that time[Pg 234] Rector of the juvenile department of the Lennoxville School, which was established and conducted under the Bishop’s sanction, as a feeder to the university of Bishop’s College, Lennoxville. That university was originated by the Bishop, and we can easily believe, what is commonly reported, that it was regarded by him as the greatest of his good works in Canada. The resolution to which we have referred was carried by acclamation, all the members of the Synod rising in their places, and continuing to stand while the subject of it made his acknowledgments. On the 2nd of August following, addresses were presented and a special service of an impressive character was celebrated in the cathedral, which included the contribution of a purse of money, sufficient in amount to found a scholarship in the university of Bishop’s College, Lennoxville, to be called the “Mountain Jubilee Scholarship.”

Thus, the “ravelled rainbow overhead” with its “crimson pain” and “violet grief,” at last dissolved in perfect and untroubled light. Thus was the saintly Bishop enabled to say his Jubilati Deo, and join the praises of those elder saints who had not only sung their Veni Jesu, but with peaceful resignation had breathed their Nunc Dimittis. Thus could he have said

“Far out of sight while yet the flesh enfolds us,
Lies the fair country where our hearts abide;
And of its bliss is nought more wondrous told us,
Than these few words, ‘I shall be satisfied.’”

The year of Jubilee was speedily followed by the year of release. “It was”, writes his biographer, “perhaps, the peacefulness of his diocese and parish, which produced in this year an unwonted, or rather a more uniform cheerfulness of mind, and apparently renewed strength of body.” Those who had opposed him had ceased from strife, and consequently he had turned gratefully from the duty of resisting the proud that he might with undisturbed peacefulness minister grace to the lowly. He had recently undergone much[Pg 235] hardship and exposure by land and by water, in visiting the outlying and almost inaccessible portions of his diocese, and it seemed that by doing so, a last longing of his soul was satisfied, for he established a mission, and what was better, he sent a missionary to the scattered fishermen on the sterile coast of Labrador. Thus God was bringing him, as his son touchingly observes, “peace at the last.” Advent solemnities and Christmas joys were approaching and both were alike precious to him. Indeed his thoughts never seemed to be more heavenly than when, tinged with the reflections of Advent, they melted into the charities of Christmas. For they were

Thoughts of His coming—for that joyful day
In patient hope I watch, and wait and pray;
The dawn draws nigh; the midnight shadows flee,
Oh! what a sunrise will that Advent be.

The year in many ways was being crowned with goodness. He had probably mingled his joy with the joys of harvest, while his relish was ripening for the joys of home. The old year of the world was passing away, but a new year of the church had commenced its cycle. The solemn services of Advent, one after another, had been celebrated. Advent, or as it is sometimes called, “The Lesser Lent,” had given place to Christmastide, with its “blaze of song,” its argosies of happiness, its blessed burden of bright words, its kindly greetings, its family gatherings, its forgetfulness of injuries, its practice of charity, and its old, old carol of thanksgiving and praise,

“Glory to God on high—on earth be peace,
And love towards men of love, Salvation and release.”

And the Bishop preached on that grand festival as if he had renewed his youth; or as if his heart had been invigorated and his mind inspired with the very spirit of Christmas. The subject was congenial and suited the season, for it was on the love of God and the joy of Christmas. But, alas! the joy which gladdened the Christians of Samaria was to be mingled with bitter memories in the[Pg 236] recollections of the Christians of Quebec. They were his last words whose face the most of them were never more to see in time. On the following day, the festival of St. Stephen, news went abroad that the Bishop was absent from church. The surprise became anxiety, when it was known that on the two subsequent days, which were also days “to be observed,” his place was vacant. Men looked gravely, as if they feared the “sickness was unto death.” None ever doubted his love for those among whom his lot had been cast, but few appreciated, until then, how intense was their love for him. In every church of his communion, and in some of the Roman Catholic churches, prayers were offered for his recovery, and no wonder, for the loss with which the community was menaced was only exceeded by the love which it felt. Thirty years of absence had not sufficed to quench the regard, which three years of intercourse had created in the hearts of his parishioners at Fredericton, for as a lady resident of that town said to the writer, when speaking of the occasion on which the Bishop re-visited them, “the memory of those three years was imperishable.”

Prospective, like actual absence, brought with it a sense of loss. Thus it was that the apprehension of his death caused those who knew him best and loved him most, to mourn with a sorrow too sacred to be touched with an intrusive pen. We shall therefore take advantage of the narrative of one who was present, for he has told us all we need know of that farewell scene. He has told us of the thought and love, which divided with hope and death the few last days and hours of the Bishop’s life. The goodness of his character was seen not only in his rememberance of great duties but in his recollection of small kindnesses. He remembered his clergy, and when he could only speak with difficulty, he was able to say, “cheques for the clergy,”—such cheques having reference to the quarterly stipends paid by him to them. Then his wish to see, and to say a few holy words to his servants, who came gratefully and knelt for the blessing they received; and lastly, his[Pg 237] love for his children and his children’s children. “My children,” said the Bishop, “I am dying. I am going to the other world (pointing upwards). You know how tenderly I have always loved you here,” and then laid his hands on the head of each. The imposition of those dying hands will have left an impression which the wear and tear of time is not likely to efface. About half-past one in the morning of the feast of the Epiphany, 1863, he said, ‘Lift me up.’ “We raised him,” continued his biographer, “in our arms, and I felt no more movement than if an infant had fallen asleep on my shoulder, while those who were in front of him saw him gently close his own eyes. His family and the diocese were fatherless!”

It is true that all seasons are alike to such as are ready to obey the summons which, sooner or later, death serves upon time; nevertheless, to those whose Christian life moves conformably with the chart of the Christian year, each season brings a special, as well as a general lesson. The doctrine of the Epiphany, like that of Christmas, is the doctrine of the Incarnation, and it was this doctrine of “God manifest in the flesh,” that shone so conspicuously in, and formed such an essential part of, the Bishop’s teaching. The Eastern Star which led the wise men to the cradle of the Saviour, was, we may say so without exaggeration, the pole star of the Bishop’s life. The “glittering host” which “be-stud the sky” would have lost their brightness to him, if “above and beyond the shining train,” his eye of faith could not have rested “on the star of Bethlehem.” It was the star which lent poetry to his childhood and peace to his age, which cheered him in his wanings, and which lighted him home.

Ne’er may we lose it from our sight,
Till all our hopes and thoughts are led
To where it stays its lucid flight
O’er our Saviour’s lowly bed.

It was his great delight, in spirit and in truth, to draw as nearly[Pg 238] as God would permit to “where the young child was;” and whether with the Jewish shepherds or with the Gentile sages, the passionate language of the Prophet as it is written in the proper lessons for the eve of “the Nativity,” and for the morning of “the Manifestation,” was the lesson of his heart and the prayer of his lips. Like one of the Eastern Magi, he seemed to watch for the time when the words of the Evangelical Seer should receive their final accomplishment, and when the earth being enclosed with a girdle of truth, nation should answer nation, and with seraphic rapture exclaim, “Arise, shine, for thy Light is come, and the Glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”

When the dying Bishop “shut his own eyes” upon earth and earthly things, who shall say that the word Ephphatha, once spoken by his compassionate Saviour, was not again repeated; who shall say that perfect light, as well as perfect rest, are not now his portion in those “prepared places” “where the spirits and souls of the righteous await their consummation and bliss?” Of those who loved and respected him and mingled their prayers with the cathedral congregation, or followed his hearse through the January snow, or saw his coffin placed beside the remains of his much beloved wife, in the quiet cemetery at Sillery; some wept silent tears saying to themselves softly the imperishable words uttered aloud by the unhappy prophet to the princes of Moab—”Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his;” while others, with the expiring notes of the organ lingering faintly in their ears, and the last holy words of the hymn which had been sung at his funeral, lodging sadly in their hearts, repeated to themselves, or to one another, the thrilling syllables of its closing prayer,

Lord, all pitying; Jesu blest!
Grant him Thine eternal rest.

[Pg 239]



The old fortified town of Berwick-upon-Tweed is a little dot of a place, with a history as singular and contradictory as its customs are peculiar and unique. It is not easy, for example, to say with certainty, whether, topographically or geographically, it originally belonged to England or to Scotland. Politically, it has suffered many vicissitudes, which “Honest Lambert” sums up with, “Lastly, Edward the Third wan it.” This winning is disavowed by the chroniclers of Scotland, who insist that it did not absolutely pass to the Crown of England until a later period. Queen Elizabeth, however, held it with a tight hand, and made it a kind of independent appanage of her kingdom; and thus the matter stood at the union of the two Crowns in the person of the first James. Natives of the town are not unfrequently at a loss to tell, in a word, the kingdom to which they belong. The writer recollects a cautious answer given to such a question. “My blood is all Scotch and my heart is all English, and I was born at the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed.”

In that town the subject of this sketch was born on the 13th February, 1819. He is the son of Mr. James Cockburn, and Sarah Turnbull his wife, who were residents, if not natives, of the place, and who emigrated to Canada in 1832, when the former died in Montreal, in July of that year. Their son, James Cockburn, was educated, firstly, at the Berwick Grammar school, an institution, we believe, founded by Queen Elizabeth, and secondly, at the Upper[Pg 240] Canada College. He studied law, and was called to the Bar in 1846. In 1862 he was appointed a Queen’s Counsel, and elected a Bencher of the Law Society of Osgoode Hall.

At the general elections in 1861, he was returned as member for West Northumberland by a majority of twenty-seven votes over the Honorable Sidney Smith, at that time Postmaster-General, for the latter seems to have been better appreciated by his conservative colleagues in the Cartier-Macdonald administration, than he was by the conservative electors of Northumberland. It was stated, and with some truth, that Mr. Cockburn entered Parliament as an independent member. But it was equally well known that in principle he was a conservative, and no surprise was felt at his voting with the administration on the 20th of May, 1862, when they suffered defeat, on the question for reading the Militia Bill a second time.

The first vote taken in the following Session, Mr. Cockburn’s name was found with the “yeas,” on a question for an amendment to the address in answer to the speech from the throne. It showed that he no more agreed with the Sandfield Macdonald-Sicotte administration in their policy with respect to Upper Canada, than he had done with the policy of their predecessors, whose candidate he had displaced. In the vote of “want of confidence,” taken on the 8th of May, 1863, Mr. Cockburn’s name is also found among the “yeas.” The re-constructed administration, commonly called the Sandfield Macdonald-Dorion government, was less acceptable to him than the previous government had been; hence, on all questions involving an expression of want of confidence in that administration, his vote was cast with the “yeas.” The second of the three motions on the subject introduced during that Session, took its rise in the gravest mistake which that administration made. The entry in the journals of the 17th September, 1863, runs thus:

Mr. Cockburn moved, seconded by Mr. Robitaille, and the question being proposed, that this House feel it their duty at once to express their deep regret[Pg 241] that His Excellency should have been advised to make the Judicial appointment by which a vacancy has recently been created in the representation of the County of St. Hyacinthe, under circumstances calculated to prejudice, if not destroy, the independence of this House, and to corrupt at its source our system of Parliamentary government.

The resolution was drawn in language of great severity, as if, indeed, the occasion which gave rise to it, called for marked reprobation. Mr. Cockburn appeared to appreciate the gravity of the duty, for he introduced the subject with apparent forbearance as well as actual delicacy. Avoiding what might have been discredited as exaggerated, or denounced as unfair, he confined his address to little beyond a well-arranged statement of facts as plain as they were painful. The motion was lost in a House of one hundred and twenty-five, out of one hundred and thirty members, by a majority of two votes only. The vote represented one of several heavy blows which the Sandfield Macdonald-Dorion administration sustained, and which resulted in their resignation without having been defeated on the 30th March, 1864. They were succeeded by the Taché-Macdonald administration, when the subject of this sketch received the appointment of Solicitor-General for Upper Canada. He was re-elected for West Northumberland by a majority of upwards of four hundred votes. On the 30th June following, a further change in the administration took place. Three conservative members retired, and an equal number of the reform party took their places. Mr. Cockburn continued in the administration, and as such, was a member of the Quebec Conference on the Confederation of the British Provinces in North America.

At the elections consequent on the passing of “The British North American Act, 1867,” Mr. Cockburn was again returned by acclamation. The new arrangements, made at the formation of the first administration for the Confederated Provinces, did not include a Portfolio for him, but two or three reports obtained currency at the time, including that which turned out to be correct, that he would be nominated by the Government for[Pg 242] the office of Speaker of the House of Commons. No doubt Mr. Cockburn had been a diligent student of Parliamentary procedure, but his aptness in this respect would scarcely have sufficed, had he not possessed certain other advantages, in the absence of which no one can successfully preside over large assemblies. With a very noteworthy share of good tact, Mr. Cockburn has generally combined a very creditable amount of good temper. In the Legislative Assembly of Canada he took a prominent part in several important discussions. Older members in those stormy days occasionally sought, by disturbing his arguments, to discredit such endeavors. But the ill-success of their attempts gave rise to the observation that the new member for West Northumberland had too much Northern blood in his veins to be baited with success; or, to use a remark made by a Western member at the time, “he carried too much weight to be easily shunted off the track.” In addressing Parliament he speaks quietly, in a courteous House of Commons style. His speeches are not related to the “rag and famish” class, for they are free from rant and extravagance; and being colloquial rather than dramatic, they are listened to as serious contributions to the deliberations of Parliament, and not laughed at as the theatrical diatribes of imaginative school-boys.

On Wednesday the sixth of November, 1867, the first session of the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada was opened. Having attended at the bar of the Senate, and received the Governor General’s commands to that effect, Sir John A. Macdonald, the leader of the administration, rose in his place in the House of Commons, and after stating what qualities a Speaker ought to possess, added, by way of corollary, that “he had much pleasure in moving that the Honorable Mr. Cockburn, member for the West Riding of Northumberland, do take the Chair.”

The resolution being seconded by Sir George E. Cartier, was carried unanimously, and the Honorable Mr. Cockburn thus became the first Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada.

[Pg 243]



Some thirty odd years ago, before the St. Lawrence canals were built, or railways thought of, the firm of Macpherson & Crane was not only a fact, but a power, from one end of Upper Canada to the other. In every estuary and harbor of the St. Lawrence, between Montreal and Niagara, vessels of various kinds were to be met with that acknowledged the ownership and sailed under the orders of Macpherson & Crane. There were vessels with round bottoms and vessels with flat bottoms; vessels with keels and vessels without keels; vessels that were pushed with polls and vessels that were propelled with sails; sloops of convenience, “Lively Pollys,” as buoyant as a punch bowl and as self-willed as a Margate hoy; schooners of pretension; “Ladies of the lake,” rich in paint and radiant in colors, like Columbine at a fair; schooners of capacity, sober and matronly, broad of beam and slow of motion, safe and sure like Dutch galiots. There were steamers, schooners, sloops, Durham boats, barges, and all the smaller fry required to complete the fresh water family of sailing craft. Such vessels were the habitués of every harbor, and the familiars of every road-stead of Upper Canada. Under the modest name of “Forwarders,” Macpherson & Crane seemed to be much more necessary to the residents of the Western Province than were the three estates of the Legislature, for they discharged the work with[Pg 244] respect to packages that is now done by steamers and railways, by express agents and common carriers, by the Post Office and by Parcels’ delivery companies. If Western products were sent to Europe, Macpherson & Crane were charged with the duty of conveying them to Montreal, and if goods were brought from Europe, Macpherson & Crane, as a matter of course, were commissioned to forward them to their western destination. They were the intermediaries through whom the inhabitants of Upper Canada received many of the necessaries and all the luxuries of life. The sugar that sweetened their tea, and the wine that sparkled in their glass, their delf and their dry goods, their English literature and their English law-books, for the most part came to them in the hold of some one or other of the vessels that acknowledged the ownership and bore the flag of Macpherson & Crane. The country grew in value and population, and the floating property of the firm increased with the increased wants of the people, until it represented a capital too extensive to be easily estimated, and an influence important enough to conciliate popular attention and to command official respect.

Such, we conjecture, is a tolerably fair representation of the facts as they stood in 1835, when David Lewis Macpherson, a younger brother of the senior partner, arrived from Scotland, and entered the counting-house, with a view of learning the business of a forwarder. The Canadian Parliamentary Companion informs us that he was born 12th September, 1818, and that he was educated at Inverness. We do not know whether he became a partner in the firm of which his brother was the chief, but he showed his sympathy with forwarders generally by marrying Elizabeth Sarah, the eldest daughter of Mr. William Molson, of Montreal, and grand-daughter of the Honorable John Molson, who built and owned the first fleet of steamers, that plyed on the St. Lawrence River.

Mr. Macpherson not only shares the common opinion of the[Pg 245] boundless resources of the great West, but, like the late Honorable Mr. Merritt, he is beset with the persuasion that through Canada lies the highway, as well as the streamway, for bearing such resources to the ocean. Hence, to use the words of the late Sir Allan N. MacNab, when “politics were railways,” Mr. Macpherson in concert with Mr. Gzowski, of Toronto, became famous as a builder and promoter of railways, and it was therefore natural enough, when the Rolling Mills Company was established at Toronto, that he should have been chosen one of the Directors. His method of improving the country seems to have found favor, for when the elections took place for Legislative Councillors in 1864, he was invited to offer himself for the Saugeen Division. Thus was it that the Honorable Mr. McMurrich, who, at a previous election, had defeated the Honorable Mr. Patton, withdrew his candidature, and found temporary solace in a life of seclusion. Mr. Snider, a gentleman of some local influence, went through the form of opposing Mr. Macpherson, and realized the fact of a severe defeat, for the latter was returned by a majority of over twelve hundred votes.

In Parliament, Mr. Macpherson appears to be generally governed by the views he expressed in his address to the electors of Saugeen. Abstract questions of politics and government concern him less than the practical ones of progress and improvement. “While it is our duty,” he, in effect, said, “to guard the constitution we possess, let us strive to make the country equal in attractiveness to the constitution, for then it will become the chosen abode of a happy and contented, as well as a loyal and devoted people. Let us turn our endeavors towards municipal improvement, including such plans of usefulness as shall smooth the highways of the land and bring churches and schools nearer to those who need them. Let us increase the means for a more intimate acquaintance of our people with one another; settle waste places, and fill the unoccupied lands with inhabitants. Let us encourage agriculture and promote commerce, and thus multiply the producing powers of the Province.[Pg 246] Let us give free grants to actual settlers and look to their labor and thrift, rather than to crown timber and crown lands for revenue and profit. People are of more value than territory, and hence, it is politic to part with the latter freely in order that we may get the former without stint.”

Mr. Macpherson’s speeches on confederation and on settling the waste lands of the crown, expressed a broad and generous policy, and were quite in harmony with the views commonly held by those who speak liberally on the subjects of immigration and progress. At the Confederation of the Provinces he was called to the Senate by Royal mandamus, and took his seat at the opening of Parliament on the 6th November, 1867. In the following year he was chosen by the Government of Ontario, under the Imperial Act, as Arbitrator, “for the division and adjustment of the debts, credits, liabilities and properties of Upper Canada and Lower Canada,” his colleagues being the Hon. Mr. Justice Day, on behalf of the Province of Quebec, and Colonel the Hon. J. Hamilton Gray of St. John, New Brunswick, on behalf of the Dominion of Canada.

Mr. Macpherson is, so to speak, a representative of the policy of progress. He is an advocate of an effective Canal and Railway system. Western extension and Eastern improvement mean all they can mean when mentioned by him. He has faith in the resources of engineering science. The difficulties, for example, which may intimidate some persons with respect to the Georgian Bay Canal, are but little regarded by him, for he knows that science can effect what commerce requires. Necessity will surmount obstacles and overcome impediments, for the granaries of the great west are not only groaning with repletion but they are impatiently clamouring for new outlets to the sea. Experience and taste incline the thoughts of Mr. Macpherson to practical subjects, and it will not be from any want of exertion on his part, if the Canadian Dominion does not increase in wealth, happiness and prosperity.

[Pg 247]



On the death of Cardinal Mazarin in 1661, Louis the Fourteenth, who, to use the words of Voltaire, “though not one of the greatest of men was at all events one of the greatest of Kings,” startled the bureaucracy of France with the announcement that thenceforward the prime minister would be the King, for the proverb “L’etat c’est moi” meant all that it could mean when it was used and applied by that imperious monarch. One of his picturesque measures of policy with respect to Canada was developed three years after the death of the Cardinal, and it very fairly reflected the character, as well as the design of Louis. It was apparently his desire that New France should represent, as fully as circumstances would admit, the genius and institutions of the parent state; and no matter where such reflections were seen or such influences felt, he wished that the spell of his name and the fame of his rule should impress and subjugate the minds of all. To accomplish these aims, it was necessary to choose such instruments as would, so to speak, represent the history of his country and the aspirations of his race. It is therefore probable that men, and perhaps classes of men, were selected who were supposed to be impelled by his enthusiasm, or beset by his ambition; to whom conquest was a passion, arms an inheritance, and war a habit—such men, as under circumstances the most contradictory, and in regions[Pg 248] the most remote, would assert the supremacy and extend the power of France. In harmony with such purposes, so far as they related to the French possessions in America, there arrived at Quebec, in June, 1665, one of what we should call the “crack” regiments of France. It was officered by gentlemen whose families, in several instances, had been ennobled, and some of whose relatives at that day held appointments more or less distinguished in the government or the court. The regiment of Carignan, as it was named, was about one thousand strong, exclusive of the officers, whose number exceeded sixty. Along with the regiment there arrived a large body of agriculturists and artisans, as well as horses and other live stock. The peculiarity of this martial immigration consisted chiefly in this, that the soldiers were sent as settlers, while the officers were expected “to keep house and home” as seigniors on such lands as might be assigned to them by the king or his representatives. The seigniors were expected to exert a paternal, as well as a military influence, over their tenants—an influence analogous to that which was exercised by the ancient nobility of Europe over their feudatories. One officer of that remarkable regiment became the seignior of Chambly, and another the seignior of Beauport. The social and economical results of such an experiment were exactly what might have been expected, and they may be gathered from an observation of Charlevoix made in 1720-21, that “the society of Quebec was agreeable, elegant and polished, although the noblesse and military officers were very poor.” Agriculture then, as now, was little understood; and commerce then, as now, was generally avoided by the privileged portion of the Canadian population.

Dr. Anderson, of Quebec, in a very interesting paper read before the Literary and Historical Society of that city, which has since been published, entitled, Some passages in the lives of a British Prince and a Canadian Seigneur, gives many interesting facts relating to the subject of this sketch, of some of which we shall[Pg 249] take the liberty of availing ourselves, premising, for the information of those who may not have seen the pamphlet, that the British Prince was the late Duke of Kent, the father of the Queen; and the Canadian Seignior the Honorable Charles Michel d’Irumberry de Salaberry, the hero of Chateauguay and the Seignior of Chambly and Beau Lac. The founder of the Canadian branch of the Bearnoise or Basque family of de Salaberry was a native of the “Basque country,” of noble birth, who, beneath the shadow of the Pyrenees, sniffed the invigorating breezes of the Bay of Biscay, and there acquired those sea tastes which were destined to control the profession he was to follow. He entered the French navy, and at the time when he first became acquainted with Canada commanded a French frigate. His ancestors may, perchance, have fought in that famous Basque regiment, which, in 1523, finding their ammunition exhausted, tied their long knives to their musket barrels, and charged the Spaniards with such success that the locality suggested the name of the new weapon, and thus the Basque people taught the soldiers of Europe their first lesson in the use of the bayonet. Some narrators mention that the de Salaberry family in earlier times lived in the small kingdom of Navarre, and being people of condition, probably found it difficult to determine whether their allegiance should be given to the sovereigns of France or of Spain. It is therefore probable that in their veins some Spanish mingles with a good deal of French blood. Be that as it may, the founder of the Canadian branch of the family arrived at Quebec as an officer of France and in command of a French frigate. Tradition informs us that he was “as brave as a lion and as strong as Hercules;” but the same authority leads us to suppose that, like many of his successors of equal bravery but less strength, he was obliged to strike his flag in a contest in which he met with more than his match, for he capitulated at once and came to terms with the charming daughter of the seignior of Beauport, whom he married. How[Pg 250] long a period elapsed between his marriage and the occupation of Quebec by the British forces, we are unable to say. We can only narrate that the issue of such marriage was a son and two daughters. The son, who bore the names of Louis Ignace, when seven years of age, witnessed the battle of Quebec, and, consequently, saw the discomfiture of the French army on the Heights of Abraham.

Canada and the Canadians seem to have exerted their usual fascination on the mind of the French sailor, for he liked the people whom he met as well as the country where they dwelt. Having, as an officer and a man of honor, done his utmost for the crown and flag of France, he accepted the issue of that great wager of battle, and with the frankness which characterizes his profession fell in with the conditions of the victor, and transferred his allegiance from the French to the English king. On the treaty of peace being proclaimed, he sent his son, Louis Ignace, to France to be educated; where he remained for eight years. On his return to Canada, he completed his studies at the seminary of Quebec. He is said to have been a young man of popular manners and good address, who had inherited the physical and social advantages of his family, for he was not only tall and strong, but distinguished for a high bred courtesy, which made him, to use a phrase, “the idol of one sex and the envy of the other.” In 1775, the wished for occasion arose in which he could gratify his martial tastes, and follow to the field “some warlike lord.” He joined the British army in the first instance as a volunteer, and rendered excellent service at the siege of St. Johns, where he was seriously wounded; but notwithstanding such occupation, and the impediment of his wounds, he found himself idle enough and well enough in 1778, to marry Catherine de Hertel, a daughter, if we mistake not, of the Seignior of Rouville. Four sons and three daughters were the issue of the marriage. At the return of peace, he selected the Manor House at Beauport as his residence, where, as M. de Gaspé informs us in his interesting[Pg 251] Memoirs of the Olden Time, M. and Madame de Salaberry, surrounded by their children, lived most happily, and shewed a gracious and kindly hospitality to all.

In 1791, His Royal Highness Prince Edward, afterwards the Duke of Kent, arrived at Quebec in command of the 60th Regiment. “The Prince and the Seignior” at once became intimate acquaintances, and eventually fast friends and regular correspondents.

In 1796, a project, which possibly harmonized with the plan of military settlement, which Louis the Fourteenth had contemplated, was regarded with favor by the Duke of Portland, at that time the Colonial Secretary, and was attempted to be carried out by Lord Dorchester, the Governor-in-Chief. The Seigniors of Lower Canada had been without any other occupation than that which the management of their properties imposed, and as such duties involved little labor and less responsibility, they found themselves in full possession of much undesirable leisure and very little congenial employment. They had given their unreserved allegiance to their new Sovereign; but they were not, or thought they were not, cordially trusted by that Sovereign. Hence it is probable that to soften a prejudice and utilize a power, Lord Dorchester, in the year 1796, made plans to raise and embody a Canadian Regiment, Louis Ignace de Salaberry being appointed to the rank of Major. The project was an experiment which seems not to have answered, as the regiment was disbanded at the end of two years. Nevertheless the motto, “Try us,” which was emblazoned on the colors of that regiment, was not forgotten in after years, for on the eve of the war of 1812, upon a recommendation to Sir George Prevost, a new regiment was enrolled, which the last mentioned officer was appointed to command. Unfortunately, he was suddenly struck with paralysis, and obliged to resign the command to his son; but he found his happiness in the comparative privacy of political and social life, and in the honors and distinctions with which that son was destined to adorn his name and race.

[Pg 252]

The friendship between “the Prince and the Seignior” was not unattended with advantages to both. It reflected honor on the former, and was replete with benefit to the latter. The Duke of Kent was beset with the taste, which at that day especially influenced the Princes of Germany, to secure fine-looking recruits for the army generally, and particularly to officer his own regiment with showy, handsome men. It happened that the four sons of the seignior of Beauport possessed, in a marked degree, if tradition speaks as truly in the case of all, as our portrait does with respect to one, the heritage of good looks; a species of personal property, we may be allowed to add, which the family still retains. Their courage and address were equal to their carriage and appearance, and hence those four Canadian officers would have done credit to any regiment or any service. That they did their parts in upholding the honor of the British arms is sufficiently established. Maurice and Louis, the second and third sons, found soldiers’ graves in India; and Edward, the fourth son, named, it is said, after his godfather, the Duke of Kent, fell at the head of his company at the storming of Badajos. Charles Michel, the eldest, who alone survived his father, was reserved for future fame.

In tracing his career, it is necessary to go back to the point from which it started, as it was in 1794, under the patronage and with the assistance of the Duke of Kent, that he obtained a commission in the 60th Rifles. He must at once have joined the force under the Duke’s command on the expedition against the French West India Islands, as he was there with the English army on the 4th of March of that year. We assume that he was at the reduction of Martinique, St. Lucia, and Guadaloupe. Having taken part in the victories of the British forces, he also witnessed the fearful mortality which ravaged and reduced their ranks. Nor was this all, for with the mere wreck of the English regiments, he found himself confronting newly arrived levies from France, under the control, if not the command, of Victor Hugues, a commissioner of the French[Pg 253] Directory, and, it must be allowed, a good representative of his ferocious employers. Guadaloupe, the last mentioned island, was thus recovered by the arms of France, and we may add that the conqueror crowned his triumph with a carnival of slaughter. The horrors of the Paris shambles were re-enacted in the tropics, for in the abused names of “liberty, equality, and fraternity,” some of the fairest blood of France was sacrificed. It was not political revenge, it was deliberate murder that the commissioner perpetrated when he slew, with every accessory of ingenious cruelty, no less than three hundred French royalists, who could not forswear themselves, any more than they would deny or disown the legitimate ruler of France. The beleaguered fortress of Matilda, under the command of General Prescott, was the last place in Guadaloupe to hold out. From the 14th of October to the 10th of December, it sustained a most harassing siege, when, being no longer tenable, the General very wisely determined to abandon it by silent evacuation. The officer selected to cover the retreat in that successful manœuvre was Charles Michel de Salaberry, at that time only sixteen years of age.

Dr. Anderson, quoting from M. de Gaspé, relates an anecdote which was characteristic of the times, and it is worth reproducing, for it was creditable to the individual. “The officers of the 60th Regiment, of which de Salaberry was Lieutenant, were of different nationalities. There were English, Prussian, Swiss, Hanoverians, and two French Canadians, the latter being Lieutenants de Salaberry and Des Rivières. It was difficult to preserve harmony among them—the Germans, especially, were apt to quarrel, and being expert duellists were dangerous antagonists. One morning de Salaberry was sitting at breakfast with some of his brother officers, when one of the Germans entered, and looking at him with an expression of insult, said, ‘I am just come from sending a French Canadian to the other world,’ meaning that he had just killed Des Rivières in a duel. De Salaberry sprang from his seat, but instantly calming himself, said, ‘We will finish breakfast and then[Pg 254] you shall have the pleasure of finishing another ‘French Canadian.’ They fought, as was then the custom, with swords; both were noted for their skill, and the combat was long and obstinate. De Salaberry was very young, his antagonist was more aged and ‘a rough bully.’ The former received a wound on his forehead, which time never effaced. As it bled freely and interfered with his sight, his friends attempted to stop the duel, but he would not consent. Binding his handkerchief round his head, the fight was recommenced with greater fury. At length his adversary fell mortally wounded, and most people will add that he got no more than his desert. There are occasions, and this was one of them, in which good may possibly be discovered in things evil, and when such a melancholy issue as that which we have narrated, will be accounted less insupportable than the shameless brutality which occasioned and gave rise to it. Like the historic sword of Daghestan, de Salaberry was ‘slow to offend’ but ‘swift to revenge.’ In his nature was personified the beauty of bravery, for with the strength of a giant and the daring of a gladiator, he had the gentleness of a woman and the tenderness of a child. Hence the remembrance of that fatal duel was a grief and a horror to the last. ‘Father, were you ever wounded?’ asked one of his sons. ‘No, my boy,’ was the answer. ‘What, then,’ was the innocent reply, ‘is that mark on your forehead?’ The father was abashed before the child, and silently left the room; whereupon the boy’s mother, after explaining the transaction to her son, enjoined him never again to advert to it.”

Service in the West Indies came to an end, and de Salaberry accompanied his regiment to England. Having obtained the staff appointment of Brigade Major, he paid a visit to Ireland, whose daughters, on good Irish authority, are said to “love the infantry, adore the cavalry, and dote on the staff.” The young soldier did not escape the peril of the situation, and being a staff officer, the epidemic, we assume, attacked him in a soft, caressing way, very perilous to meet and very difficult to repel. Of course, he was[Pg 255] “doted on,” and naturally fell into what very nearly proved irreclaimable captivity to a young lady whom Dr. Anderson informs us was trebly attractive, for she was “young, beautiful, and gentle.” But, alas, her “face was her fortune,” and her lover’s sword was his. The double contribution, though beautifully freighted with poetic wealth, was scarcely sufficient to remove the prosaic impediments to the much coveted ceremony of marriage. Though incautious, the young soldier was not ungrateful, and, therefore, before speaking to the priest, he “dropt a line” to his patron, the Duke of Kent. Unlike some arts which time has destroyed, the art of falling in love is not wholly obsolete, and as it is possible that some young persons may be found who believe in their ability to live sumptuously on sentiment and rations, we give, by way of caution, an extract of the Duke’s letter, which is written at Kensington Palace, and dated 1st November, 1808:—

“From the long experience I have now had of the service of the regiments of the line, I am satisfied that no situation is so unenviable as that of a married officer, even when he possesses an independent fortune to enable him to support his wife and family in the style in which a gentleman (such as the profession should make every one who holds the King’s commission) not only would wish, but ought to do. Of course, therefore, when the married officer has not the aid of private fortune to add to the small pittance which the regimental pay affords him, in these dear times, his situation must be deplorable, being obliged either to see his wife and family want those comforts, without which their life must be a burden to them, or to run in debt to procure them. You, my dear de Salaberry, at this moment, possess about twenty shillings a day pay, exclusive of those allowances which are not more than adequate to furnish and support your equipage as a staff officer. But the moment you get promotion, which naturally must be your first object, you will be reduced to fifteen shillings; for you cannot expect that, with my interest only to support you (which literally at this time is worse than none), you will be appointed to any situation on the staff, while your very advancement must make you vacate the Brigade-majorship you now hold;—that being the case, I leave it to your own good sense to judge whether, upon that small stipend, it would either be right or honorable to take away a young woman, for whom you have a regard, from those comforts she has been used to at home, to share the wretched accommodation of, at most, two barrack-rooms, if you are so situated as to be enabled to have her with you; or, if the imperious call of duty separates you, to vegetate in some obscure lodging, on the few shillings which, I contend, you can ill spare from your[Pg 256] scanty pay. Were I to write volumes, I could not express my sentiments more fully than I have done in the three foregoing pages: from which you will easily see that the sum of my opinion is, you ought not and cannot think of marrying your cousin; indeed, I would go further, and say, you ought to shun the very thought of matrimony, situated as you are; but if, under any circumstances, it can be right for you to think of it, it would be if chance threw in your way a woman of respectable character, who is enabled to give you, the day you marry her, that independence which there is little prospect of your being ever able to give her. After saying this, let me advise you, de prendre sur vous, to be explicit without loss of time, for honor, good sense, and every consideration, require it; and believe me, when you have done this, you will, to the last hour of your existence, feel grateful to me for having given you this counsel; for to be a good soldier (for which highly honorable qualification no man possesses more the requisite than yourself), it is absolutely necessary for a man to be independent, and with a wife and the prospect of a family, it is impossible for you to be so.”

The next year, 1809, the State had provided for him and for others, a rough remedy for the kind of palpitation at the heart which had afflicted him, for he was ordered to accompany his regiment on the Walcheren expedition. If no honor, a great deal of advantage was to be gained by those who had health and brains to extract knowledge from error, and wisdom from adversity. We incline to think that de Salaberry was one of the number, for, later in his career, his prudence was as conspicuous as his courage, and both bore successfully the test of trial. On his return from Flushing, he was ordered to Canada, and placed on the staff of General de Rottenberg, under whom he had served at Walcheren. In 1812, when war appeared to be imminent, Sir George Prevost called on his father, and on him, to do what lay in their power to defend the country. The call was soon answered at the head of the “Canadian Voltigeurs,” a provincial regiment, which was raised with great alacrity, and destined, ere long, to give a good account of itself. West Indian and Walcheren experiences, including the recollections of success and disaster, had not, as we have said, been thrown away, for Colonel de Salaberry was especially sensible to the importance of economising his resources, and of preserving the health and lives of his soldiers. As soon as[Pg 257] his regiment took the field, he made a defensive alliance with nature, and sought her assistance in covering as well as moving his troops. He was obliged to be wary, that he might be bold, for his force was small, and his ability to recruit it comparatively insignificant.

General Dearborn, in 1812, had assembled an army of ten thousand men, and from Plattsburg menaced Montreal. De Salaberry, with the advance of Colonel D’Echambault’s corps under his orders, commanded the outposts, and although the Canadian levies were raw, they were full of confidence in themselves and in their commanders. The season was far advanced, but with such an army General Dearborn was naturally expected by his government to effect something imposing before the campaign closed—something that might be repeated in the American newspapers in sensational capitals, and proclaimed to the credulous by brazen trumpets and brass bands. General Dearborn necessarily took the initiative in what, considering the season of the year, must have been accounted a very doubtful, if not a very hazardous movement. Sir George Prevost, having made out General Dearborn’s plan of operations, sent de Salaberry, with four hundred men and some Indian auxiliaries, to dispute his entrance into the Province. This was successfully and very easily accomplished. The following general order will explain what Sir George Prevost thought of the affair:

Adjutant general’s office,     
Laprairie, 27th Nov., 1812.

“G. O.—His Excellency the Commander of the Forces, takes this opportunity of expressing to Lieut. Colonel de Salaberry, his entire approbation of his conduct in the management of the advance, as well as the high sense he entertains of the alacrity with which the corps of the Volunteer Voltigeurs, the Battalion of embodied Militia, Captain Platt’s troop of Light Cavalry, and the Montreal Battalion of Volunteer Militia, and the flank companies, second and third battalions Montreal Militia, repaired to their different posts to repel the threatened invasion, and which, had it taken place, His Excellency feels confident, from the tried[Pg 258] valor and discipline of His Majesty’s regular forces, and from the enthusiastic loyalty and courage of all classes of His Majesty’s Canadian subjects, would have terminated in the defeat and disgrace of the enemy. The extraordinary exertions which have been made on this occasion, and which thus calls forth His Excellency’s notice and commendation, cannot fail from producing the most happy consequences to the future tranquillity and prosperity of the country. The General Orders of this day and the 27th current, are to be entered into the General Orderly Books, and read at the head of every corps on parade.

Adjt. General N. A.

Like his father, who married in 1778, during the Revolutionary war, Colonel de Salaberry appeared to think that a similar period of disquiet was not inconsistent with a peaceful accompaniment. Hence, in the year 1812, he inaugurated a holy alliance on his own account by marrying his cousin, Marianne de Hertel de Rouville, a descendant of that Sieur de Rouville, to whom was first granted the Seigniory of Chambly. The Duke of Kent wrote a very different letter to the letter of discouragement which we have already quoted. The case had taken a turn favorable to competence, residence and respectability. We can only find space for an extract. The letter is dated Kensington Palace, 8th August, 1813:—

“Madame de St. Laurent and myself, who were delighted to hear in the first place of the very judicious marriage you have made, have also been highly gratified in learning that she has given you a son, and not a little pleased with the compliment you have paid her by naming him after her. You will therefore judge how cordially we both unite in the fervent prayer that the name may prove more fortunate to him than it was to your poor brother Edward.”

In the same year, 1813, Colonel de Salaberry was required to give his undivided attention to Generals Wilkinson and Hampton, and the armies which they commanded—the former of whom was directed to surprise and capture Kingston and Prescott, and then join the latter, who, having possessed himself of some of the outlying posts on the Lower Canada frontier, was expected to unite his forces with those of Wilkinson and make a common descent on the[Pg 259] island and city of Montreal. Jefferson, writing from Monticello, in a letter dated the 1st October, 1812, had indicated the plan of operations. After stating that “Hull’s surrender has been more than the loss of a year to us,” counsels that “a blow be struck below; for,” he adds, “the effectual possession of the river from Montreal to the Chaudiere, which is practicable, would give us the upper country at our leisure.” Reverses to the British arms had occurred in Western Canada, for General Proctor had been shamefully defeated at the battle of the Thames. The United States authorities had therefore gained heart, and with the elastic confidence that characterizes the nation, thought that they might as well disperse the force under Sir George Prevost at Montreal, and thus, by acquiring the key, possess themselves of the Province of Canada. The combined armies of those two Generals amounted, according to Col. Coffin’s statement in his “Chronicle of the War of 1812,” to 17,200 men of all arms. To encounter these two armies, the British had a force of regulars and militia of five thousand men only, two thousand of whom were in Upper Canada. The line of attack selected by General Hampton is said to have been judiciously chosen, for it was drawn through the country lying to the west of the Richelieu, and menaced Isle-aux-Noix, St. Johns, and Chambly. The British force detached to oppose this invasion was scarcely more than a column of observation; but the advance, consisting of only three hundred and fifty men, was commanded by Colonel de Salaberry. This third part of a regiment was handled with singular courage and discretion. De Salaberry was allowed to make his own dispositions, and he did so with rare sagacity. Indeed, he re-enacted, with similar success but on a smaller scale, the tactics which occasioned the British defeat under Abercrombie at Ticonderoga. He knew the advantages which the forest afforded to a small force, and therefore, like Montcalm, he had been especially careful to obstruct every approach to his position, by building as formidable abattis as the time and[Pg 260] means at his disposal would admit. General Hampton attempted to penetrate this forbidding fringe of black ash forest, and he was probably right in doing so, for it alone separated his army from the cleared farms and the housed products of Lower Canada. To accomplish his purpose, he made a dash at an outlying picket at Odelltown, which, however, was defended with such obstinacy by Captain Mailloux and the few militia men under his command, that a very small measure of success attended the effort. Moreover, the timely arrival of reinforcements, consisting of the flank companies of a militia regiment under Major Perrault, and the Canadian Voltigeurs under Colonel de Salaberry, put a new face on the affair, and, after much harass, General Hampton was compelled to withdraw his force and move it westward, to find, as Col. Coffin very tersely observes, “his Philippi on the banks of the Chateauguay.”

On General Hampton’s retirement, and notwithstanding the great disparity of numbers in the two armies, Colonel de Salaberry followed him cautiously and overtook him about four miles within the American frontier, and near the source of the Richelieu. The object of the Canadian commander was to effect by a surprise what he could not hope to accomplish in any other way. The accidental discharge of a musket by one of his soldiers not only spoiled his plans, but compelled him to extricate himself from a position of considerable peril. Being discovered, he neither lost heart, head, nor time, but acting on the principle that fortune favors the bold, he collected about forty of his Voltigeurs and a few Indians, and made a vociferous onset on what, we conjecture, must have been the advance of the American army, causing it to fall with great confusion on the main body. The act was as gallantly executed as it was boldly conceived. It actually resulted in the repulse of a body of eight hundred men by a force of one-eighth of that number; but morally the effect was of great advantage to the smaller force, for de Salaberry recovered his position much faster than the enemy recovered his composure; and by doing so, impressed those whom[Pg 261] he led that a great strategic gain had been won without any personal loss. It is probable that the comments made in the two armies on this affair of outposts were not dissimilar, for the Americans must have believed, what the Canadians were well aware of, that their commander was a man of ingenuity and resource, as well as of coolness and address. We shall merely refer our readers to the interesting narrative to be found in Col. Coffin’s Chronicle of the War of 1812, and, as to what follows; to the letter of an “eye witness,” which was written and published at the time, and is ascribed, and as we believe truly, to the late Commander Jacques Viger, of Montreal.

Three weeks had elapsed since the American army, with General Hampton, made its first advance into Canada. On the 21st October, 1813, his second invasion was attempted, but like the first experiment, it was made on ground with which Colonel de Salaberry was intimately familiar, and which he had taken much pains to secure by roughly fortifying it. Indeed, he had hedged his position with every appliance which nature offered, and the abattis erected under his orders was so provokingly well done, as to render inoperative the artillery of the Americans. Nothing seems to have been overlooked and nothing forgotten by the Canadian commander, and from first to last he kept steadily to his purpose of repelling the enemy without exposing his own soldiers. General Hampton was probably misled as well as ill-served, for he seemed to have had very inaccurate knowledge of the position, and none of the strength of the enemy. Ignorance aggravated his anxiety, and de Salaberry’s audacity made it insupportable. When, therefore, the latter, by way of stratagem, separated his buglers, and placed them in extended order, so that they should represent a considerable force in line; and at a critical moment, by previous arrangement, signalled them to sound the advance, the American General became bewildered, for the British call to advance was answered by the retreat, and subsequent flight, of the American army. This unique achievement[Pg 262] resulted in the absolute demoralization of the American forces under Hampton; moreover, it necessitated the withdrawal of the army under Wilkinson. Thus was the enemy’s plan of the campaign hopelessly disconcerted, for the two invading armies which were to have united their victorious forces were successfully kept apart, and the dispositions of the American government, civil and military, rendered worthless and unavailing. The season was wearing on, and, therefore, General Hampton sought solace in discretion, and found refuge in winter quarters. This extraordinary success was won with a loss to the Canadians, according to the return made in general orders by the Adjutant General, of five rank and file killed, two captains, one sergeant and thirteen rank and file wounded, and four missing. Thenceforward Col. de Salaberry was known as the hero of Chateauguay, for although General de Wattville was the officer in command, the battle was fought by de Salaberry and the small body of troops immediately under his orders.

General orders and complimentary despatches followed one another in rapid succession, together with official and private letters from the Duke of York and the Duke of Kent, but which our space will not allow us to reproduce in this sketch. We shall content ourselves with inserting the following:

Extract of a General Order, dated—

Adjutant-General’s Office,
“Headquarters, Montreal, 4th Nov., 1813.

“His Excellency the Governor-in-Chief and Commander of the Forces has the highest pride and satisfaction in declaring his acknowledgments to the loyal and brave Militia of Lower Canada, for the zeal and alacrity with which they flew to their posts, and for the patience and firmness with which they have endured, in this inclement season, the severe hardships and privations to which they have been exposed. The steadiness and discipline of the whole have been conspicuous; and the undaunted gallantry displayed by six companies, almost to a man composed of Canadian Fencibles and Militia, under the immediate command of Lieut.-Colonel de Salaberry, in repelling, with disgrace, an American invading army, twenty times their number, reflects unfading honor on the Canadian name.


[Pg 263]

A gold medal was struck to commemorate the victory, and the Voltigeurs were presented with colors. Besides the medal which was, of course, given to him, de Salaberry was made a C.B., and received an autograph letter from the Prince Regent. Moreover, the two Houses of the Provincial Legislature passed a vote of thanks to him. Honors are valuable, and must be highly appreciated by men of honor. But when conferred for substantial services, such distinctions are usually associated, and properly so, with practical rewards, for a generous people commonly returns sacrifice for service. England is not deficient in generosity. It is therefore probable that a technical difficulty stood in the way of its exercise on this occasion; for, though de Salaberry fought and won the battle, he held only a subordinate command in the division. Men are not commonly satisfied with the excuses which etiquette and the rules of a service supplies, and hence the feeling, in Canada at least, was that as Colonel de Salaberry received nothing beyond the honors we have mentioned, the Imperial treasure was, in his case, guarded with exceptional and blameworthy discrimination.

Having served his country in the field, he was subsequently invited to serve it in the state, for in 1818, he was summoned by Royal mandamus, to a seat in the Legislative Council, of which body his father was also a member. The latter departed this life in 1828, and the former a year afterwards in 1829. The genial attractions which lent their brightness to the manor house at Beauport, were not absent from the seigniorial home at Chambly, for the inheritance of a mirthful and hilarious temperament had been transmitted from sire to son, with conspicuous regularity. The love of music and the love of dancing, which characterize the natives of Navarre, as well as of the people of the Basque country, were not discredited by their representatives in Canada; for the de Salaberry family retain on the banks of the Richelieu, in the climate of Sweden, though in the latitude of Spain, many of the social characteristics which distinguish the natives of[Pg 264] Southern Europe. And it was while following the bent of his own inclination as well as the habit of his race, in the midst of innocent amusement and cheerful recreation, and when surrounded by loving relatives and kind neighbors, that his life suddenly departed. On February the 25th, 1829, he was, we believe, spending the evening at the house of his brother-in-law, the late Mr. Augustus Hatt of Chambly, when a young lady challenged him to dance a reel with her. He was not the man to decline a challenge, not even when the cartel was presented by one who would have received his excuses with as much grace as she received his assent. However, he danced so spiritedly and so long, that his eldest son, the late Deputy Adjutant General of Militia, glided between the dancers, and consoled his father’s partner by taking his father’s place. But on retiring to the adjoining room, the Colonel said to a young medical friend, who was there, “I feel very unwell,” and almost immediately became speechless. In spite of medicine and treatment, he died on the following day in the fifty-first year of his age.

Though the battle of Chateauguay was less picturesque as a fact and less poetical as a narrative than the battle of Queenston Heights, it was, we venture to think, as a military achievement, of even greater importance than the more celebrated victory. Brock was a hero whose courage never erred on the side of caution. He was perhaps prodigal of life; he fought his enemy wherever he found him, and having the choice, would probably have chosen the open country with “a fair field and no favor.” Thus, by dash and audacity, sheer force and hard fighting, he drove his adversary to destruction. Moreover, the battle ground of Queenston Heights was no ordinary picture. Besides the central figure of the death of Brock, with the accessories of victory and defeat, it had been enclosed by nature in a frame-work of unrivalled magnificence. Imagination and fancy heightened the fascination which usually surrounds the “pomp and circumstance” of war, and thus the narrative of that sacrifice and triumph, the death of the victor and the route of the vanquished,[Pg 265] are associated with the grand scenery of Niagara, and bedewed with the incense of the great cataract. In harmony with such surroundings, the continual surge and throb of those everlasting waters lent assistance to the minstrels who, in impassioned verse, or to the narrators who in poetic prose, sung or said how the British kept the Heights in “the brave days of old!”

The duties respectively imposed on Brock and de Salaberry were so similar as to be almost identical. They were to prevent invasion, or that failing, to expel the invader. Each in his own way accomplished what both were required to perform, but the mode in which the work was done was strikingly unlike. If Brock was, as he is said to have been, prodigal of life, at least he was not more careful of himself than he was of the humblest soldier in his ranks. His daring provoked his death, and his country lost in his fall, one of the best Generals of Division in the British army. De Salaberry, with equal courage, had probably a keener appreciation of the value of a soldier’s life, for he had served where too much indifference to such lives had been attended with loss, if not with shame. Hence he sought to rectify the numerical inequalities between his own and the enemy’s forces, and by prudence and knowledge, by strategy and address, to equalize what was unequal. He pitted the sagacity of the beaver against the strength of the bear, and, therefore, he fought with other weapons beside the firelock and the sword. He called in the humbler services of the axe and the spade, and silenced artillery by chopping and digging. He avoided the fields and clung to the forests. He built abattis and enclosed his position with an extended and, at the same time, a rasping chevaux de frise, which the forest had been made to supply. Moreover, he succeeded in fighting on the ground which he had chosen and prepared for the engagement. He held his position just so long as he had intended to hold it, for when he moved, it was to advance and gradually push until he eventually pursued the enemy to his lair. Thus by paralyzing the plans of his foe, de Salaberry rendered worthless a movement[Pg 266] whose value depended not only on an engagement with the British force in Lower Canada, the success of which seems not to have been doubted, but on exact combinations to be effected after such assumed victory. All such plans were cleverly frustrated, and with but trifling loss, for the “butcher’s bills,” as Cobbett called such returns, were too inconsiderable to be interesting. Thus the battle of Chateauguay offered no material to the painter, and very little to the poet. Politicians like Jefferson, understood the value of the British victory, and military men on both sides of the line concurred in opinion with Sir George Prevost, that it put off, at least, for one more year, and perhaps for an indefinite period, the serious invasion of Canada.

If there be a parallel in the military services which, on the two occasions we have mentioned, Brock and de Salaberry successfully performed, as well as in the political value of those services, there is also a contrast in the manner in which they were acknowledged by the Legislatures and people, respectively, of Upper and Lower Canada. The former Province, through its Parliament, voted to the family of Brock twelve thousand acres of land, and the people, of their own free will, by voluntary contributions, built and rebuilt the majestic column which crowns the Heights of Queenston, and commemorates the victory while it covers the dust of Brock. The Legislature of Lower Canada, whose inhabitants de Salaberry had protected from violence, and whose properties he had saved from spoil, returned the courtesy of a gracious acknowledgment, for they recorded their thanks on the journals of both Houses of their Legislature. But so far as we can learn, neither the Parliament nor the people of Lower Canada gave more; they neither voted land to his race, nor a stone to his fame.

[Pg 267]



Mr. Starnes’ father was a United Empire Loyalist of Scotch descent, who settled in Canada at the close of the revolutionary war. We do not know what his opinions were on the subject of the separation of the provinces in 1791, but there can be no doubt he favored an intimate union of the peoples, as he married a French Canadian lady. One of the results of such marriage was the birth, at Kingston, in Canada West, of a son, whose photograph prefaces this sketch. Though born in the Upper Province, young Henry Starnes was not destined to give the weight of his influence to the preponderating population of that province, for he was removed very early in life to Montreal, where, as we conjecture, it had been arranged he was to be brought up. He was educated in part by the Rev. Mr. Esson, and in part at the Montreal College. On leaving the college he was taken into the counting-house of James Leslie & Co., wholesale merchants in that city, and such was his industry, intelligence, and integrity, that he rose rapidly from the position of a salaried clerk to that of a partner. With the infusion of the new blood there was a change in the old style, for the firm thereafter became known as Leslie, Starnes & Co.

Several years before the union of the provinces, Mr. Leslie, the senior partner, had taken an active part in the politics of Lower Canada, and was a member of the House of Assembly of that Province.[Pg 268] At the elections which immediately followed the union he was returned for the County of Verchères, for which county he continued to sit until the 23rd May, 1848, when he was summoned by Royal mandamus to a seat in the Upper House. Previously, on the eleventh of March, of the same year, he accepted the office of President of the Executive Council in the Lafontaine-Baldwin administration. This, of course, necessitated his retirement from commerce, and occasioned Mr. Starnes’ promotion to the chief place in the firm. Public appreciation in the form of commercial and civic honors succeeded one another with great rapidity, for in the same year Mr. Starnes was elected a director of La Banque du Peuple, and appointed a warden of the Trinity-House. Either then, or shortly afterwards, he was elected Vice-President of the Board of Trade of Montreal, which office he filled for a double term.

Mr. Starnes not only combines the blood of the two races in his veins, but he represents their peculiarities in his character. Moreover he is liked and trusted by both, for his intimate friends are found in French and English families. From his mother he derived the sparkle of the Gaul, and from his father the solidity of the Gael, and hence it is equally natural for him to be as gay as a Frenchman or as grave as a Scot. Moreover he has the intelligence not only to see that there is much to admire in both races, but he has the candor to say so. Between the mixed populations of Montreal and him, reciprocal attractions have existed which time does not seem to weaken. Thus in 1856 and 1857 he was twice chosen by acclamation as the Mayor of Montreal, and ten years afterwards, in 1866 and 1867, the like honor was as many times repeated in the same flattering way.

“Good wine needs no bush,” but a public dinner requires a pleasant chairman. We have been informed that Mr. Starnes’ social merits are as conspicuous as they are unique. Naturally cheerful he is never embarrassed, for a confused expression is foreign to his face. A blush could no more get through his skin[Pg 269] than the brightness could get out of his eye, for he possesses the kind of bronze tinted complexion which is as hardy as it is enviable. The sun cannot ruffle its surface neither can a surprize agonize its roots, for whatever his feelings may be, his face tells no tales. Mr. Starnes possesses the knack of seeming to be and of being happy in his manner when presiding at a festival. These qualifications were put to repeated tests in the course of his Mayoralty, for in 1856 he was required to be the chairman of a banquet given to the British troops on their arrival from the Crimea, and later in the same year, as the mayor, he was called upon to preside at the grand festival which was given by the citizens of Montreal to the Governor General, to the Commander of the Forces, to the Members of the Administration, and to six thousand guests, more or less distinguished, who attended by invitation from the United States, the Maritime Provinces, and the two Canadas, to celebrate the opening of the Grand Trunk Railway from Montreal to Toronto. As a mark of appreciation, the guests presented, through the Mayors of such American and Canadian cities as were present, very cordial addresses of acknowledgment to Mr. Starnes, who received and answered them with such tact as to provoke compliment.

In 1866 Mr. Starnes presided at a farewell dinner given to Sir George Cartier, who was about to embark for England, when the latter, in proposing the Mayor’s health, said:

“With the permission of the Mayor I shall now propose a toast. I have at my left a college friend, and though he has devoted himself to trade and commerce, and I to law and politics, we have never lost sight of each other. We have often met with feelings of good will and pleasure, and it is not long since that, in his place in parliament, he united with me in appealing to the intelligence and patriotism of the Commons of Canada in behalf of the great and vital interests of the country. I appeal to you, the citizens of Montreal, who have already three times elected him by acclamation as your Chief Magistrate, to respond heartily to the toast which I now propose, ‘The health of Mr. Starnes, Mayor of Montreal.’”

In the second year of his mayoralty, 1857, he was deputed by the citizens to advocate the claims of Montreal to be selected as[Pg 270] the seat of government, and though his exertions were not crowned with success, the failure was not attributable to the weakness of his arguments, for then and since he was supposed to hold the popular brief. In the same year he was nominated, with Sir George Cartier and Mr. Rose, as one of the members for Montreal, but, though he suffered defeat for the city, he was returned, at the same election, as member for Chateauguay, for which county he continued to sit until 1863, when he declined to come forward. In 1860 he retired from the firm with which his name had so long been associated, and accepted the situation of Manager of the Ontario Bank at Montreal, an office which he continues to fill. But his connection with that great monetary institution has not wholly detached him from public life. In the month of August, 1867, he was invited by the Hon. Mr. Cauchon to accept office in the Provincial Administration of Quebec, and afterwards by the Hon. Mr. Chauveau to take the chair as speaker of the Legislative Council of that Province. Though for private reasons, Mr. Starnes declined offices of responsibility and emolument, he did not hesitate to become a member of the Legislative Council of Quebec, when he was invited by the Lieutenant-Governor to take a seat in that Honorable House.

[Pg 271]


A Manly heart lost this our western land,
When thine, brave chaplain, to the grave was borne;
And friends, even some who never clasped thy hand,
In distant townships, thy departure mourn.
For generous hearts are few upon the earth,
And genial natures, such as guided thee;
Grave thoughts and sad swept o’er thee; but thy mirth
Out-rode them all,—a life-boat on the sea.
And ’mong thy friends how many felt the charm
Of thy keen intellect and racy tongue;
Thy tide of thoughts, thy feelings ever warm,
Portrayed a nature, deep and fresh and young
E’en in thy age; and long thy name will stand,
Bright as a fisher’s beacon in this our western land.[3]

The Rev. William Agar Adamson wublin on the 21st November, 1800. His father, Mr. James Adamson, was the son of the Rev. Christopher Adamson of Ballinalock, in the County of Westmeath, and Incumbent of St. Marks, Dublin; his mother was the eldest daughter of Mr. Isaac Hutchinson of Violet Hill, in the county Wicklow. In July, 1819, he entered Trinity College, Dublin, as a gentleman commoner, and in July, 1821, took his A. B. degree. In 1824 he was ordained and appointed to the[Pg 272] joint curacies of Lockeen and Parsonstown. In the same year he married Sarah, the second daughter of Mr. John Walsh, of Walsh Park, in the county of Tipperary. In 1826, he was presented to the Vicarage of Clonlea, in the county of Clare. In 1833, he was preferred by his Bishop to the Vicarage of Ennis, and in 1838, he was presented by the Lord Lieutenant, the late Marquis of Normanby, not only to the Rectory of Kilcooly, in the county of Tipperary, but he was also appointed, by the same nobleman, one of His Excellency’s chaplains.

The Doctor, as he was familiarly called, was especially liked by the Whigs, and there was probably much truth in the observation, that he stood a good chance of receiving an Irish mitre. But the Whigs went out of office, and with them his prospect of promotion. Thereupon he closed his career in Ireland, by accepting the living of Amherst Island in Upper Canada, then in the gift of the Earl of Mountcashel, and with Mrs. Adamson, and eight, of nine children, issue of their marriage, he arrived on the scene of his new duties. The Parliament of the newly constituted Province of Canada was summoned to meet at Kingston, a town distant about ten miles from Amherst Island, and thus it chanced that the new incumbent took possession of this new living about the time the new province took possession of the new capitol.

The Marquis of Normanby was naturally anxious to advance the interests of one whom he had known and liked, and who had held a post of honor in his household. Moreover the Marquis was the friend and had been the colleague of the newly appointed Governor General of British North America. It was, therefore, the most natural thing possible for the former to introduce his chaplain to the latter, and recommend him to his official favor. An introduction under such circumstances might have been more flattering than valuable, but it so chanced that the only piece of ecclesiastical patronage in the gift of the Crown in Canada was then at the disposal of the Governor General. Hence, from his regard to the Marquis[Pg 273] of Normanby and his appreciation of his protegé Dr. Adamson, Lord Sydenham appointed the latter not only to the offices of Chaplain and Librarian of the Legislative Council, but also to be his own Domestic Chaplain. The duties of the latter situation were of short continuance, for the accident which resulted in the death of that gifted nobleman, occurred within three months after the appointment had been made. But it was long enough for a very fast friendship to grow and to ripen between the statesman and the priest. There is something very touching in the last published directions of the former. His Lordship’s biographer thus describes the scene, which reads like the language of one who was merely going on a distant journey. “Good-bye, Grey, you will defend my memory; mind, Grey, you will defend my memory!” He then spoke kindly to Major Campbell and Mr. Baring, adding (motioning his hands to all), “Now leave me alone with Adamson to die;” and with his mind soothed with holy words, and his head pillowed on human strength, for it rested on the arm of his Chaplain, the suffering nobleman sank into rest.

On the removal of the seat of government from Kingston, Dr. Adamson was required to elect between the surrender of his living at Amherst Island or the surrender of his situation in the Legislative Council. After much reflection, he gave up the former, and thus made the first of those sacrifices which subsequent changes in the seat of government obliged him frequently to repeat; of relinquishing professional duty in the Church, that he might retain the offices which he held in the Legislature. On that occasion, the change was not unattended with compensation, for Dr. Adamson was appointed assistant minister of the parish church at Montreal, an appointment which, we believe, he held until 1851, when the seat of government was removed from Toronto to Quebec. On leaving Montreal several complimentary addresses from the clergy and laity, were presented to him; they were laden with the like sentiments—regard for him and regret at his departure. Two of[Pg 274] the addresses from the laity were accompanied with inscribed silver salvers, one of them signed by Colonel Coffin, at that time sheriff of Montreal, and many others, was supplemented with a purse of one thousand dollars. The Doctor was appointed evening lecturer at the Quebec Cathedral, and Secretary of the Church Society, whose revenue and capital were very materially increased by his tact, zeal, and exertion.

In 1855, on the removal of the seat of government once more to Toronto, he was requested by the Bishop of that Diocese to take temporary duty at St. Paul’s church, Yorkville. Some misunderstanding had arisen in that congregation between the incumbent, or the assistant of minister, and a few of the parishioners, which had been stimulated with a good deal of temper and could only be soothed with a good deal of tact. In selecting Dr. Adamson for such duty the Bishop displayed his usual sagacity. The work of peace was quietly performed, for when the Doctor relinquished his charge the congregation presented him with a silver flagon, whereon is inscribed their hope that the “Blessing promised to the peacemakers may be his!” Afterwards he was appointed assistant minister of St. George’s Church at Toronto. On the return of the seat of government to Quebec in 1859, he was again attached to the Cathedral staff of that city. Indeed, it was while he was engaged in reading prayers at the Cathedral on Sunday morning, on the 12th of June, 1864, that he suddenly fainted and fell backwards, and for a long time continued in a state of apparent insensibility. It is from that particular period that his friends date the gradual decline of his health and strength.

In 1865, he was associated with the Honorable Mr. McGee and Mr. Devine, as a commissioner to the Dublin exhibition. He also took the opportunity of visiting England, for though in his earlier years, he had passed a good deal of time in London, he had seen little or nothing of English country life. His observation and[Pg 275] experience of such life in 1865 were sources of unspeakable pleasure and satisfaction to him to the last. It may have been that “the evening of life lent a mystical lore,” but it was very charming to listen to his impressions of the Anglican Church, as she was presented to his mind when in England. Such reverential pride mingled with the poetry of his descriptions. The work of charity in every variety of development seemed to him to be going on every where. There were new colleges and new schools, hospitals for the sick, asylums for the aged, homes for the orphans, refuges for the outcasts. Every kind of holy work, besides church building, church restoration, and church repair was going forward. So much personal sacrifice, so much silent zeal, so much methodical devotion. “Go where I would,” it was his custom with glowing emotion to remark, “I found myself surrounded with the like influences, continually and without weariness doing the same thing, observing charities, visiting churches, worshipping at cathedrals, or listening to plans of benevolence. Such associations,” he meekly observed, “do more than colleges to teach men. I never,” he remarked to the writer, “felt so humble and at the same time so proud of my vocation and ministry, as when I saw in England the sons and daughters whom the Church of England had nourished and brought up.”

The hope that his health would be re-established by his visit to England was but partially gratified. It was not sufficiently restored to warrant a resumption of clerical duty. Skilful treatment and the most watchful care, added to a strong constitution, combined to stay, for a while at least, as a writer in a local journal remarked, “the ebb of a life very precious to many, besides those to whom it was most dear.” But on the 7th of August, 1868, to quote from the same paper, “with his mind unclouded to the last, and with the words of peace and immortality on his lips, the music of his eloquent tongue dropped into silence.”

Dr. Adamson belonged to a clerical school which is almost nonexistent now, and is not easily described. An anecdote related of a[Pg 276] clergyman of the Episcopal Church, resident in one of the chief cities of the United States, may serve as an introduction to, if not as an illustration of, one phase of his character. The clergyman in question, not very long since, had returned from a visit to England. He mentioned to an English parishioner, a man of obsolete preferences and stiff prejudices, his surprise at having failed in the course of his visit to meet any of the “Fox-hunting Parsons” of whom he had heard or read. “Didnt ee meet any on ’em, sir, I be sorry for that, sir, for ee did’nt see the best on ’em, sir,” was, as we have been informed, the sorrowful answer of this original Englishman. The clergyman very probably shared the popular prejudice on the subject of mingling black and pink coats together, and of exposing them at the same time to the exhilarating influence of a “Southerly wind and a cloudy sky.” Nevertheless a good deal of truth underlies the observation we have quoted, for no matter what the color of a man’s cloth or the nature of his calling, English people are generally attracted by the manliness of character which accompanies such exercises. The English University system, whether it be good or bad, stands on its own merits, and must be regarded as at the root of English habits and character. Separate colleges for the clergy is not an English notion, for youth intended for holy orders are not isolated and brought up in a monastic manner; on the contrary, they are educated with a miscellaneous company of young men who are designed for other professions, but with whom they are destined to jostle in the course of their lives. This discipline of contact has a great deal to do with making the English clergy what they are, for as a spiritual order they differ as much from the priests of the Church of Rome, as they do from the ministers of the non-conforming bodies of Christians. Dr. Adamson combined the tastes of a country gentleman with the calling of a divine. His nature glowed with manliness and vigor. He was hearty and kindly, smiling and courteous. Moreover, he was possessed of physical and moral courage which danger did not appal, and disease did not[Pg 277] intimidate, for when occasion required no soldier was more daring and no Samaritan more devoted. He was as enthusiastic as he was brave, and whether as a churchman or a naturalist, as a divine or a sportsman, he acted upon the principle that whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well. In his younger days, he occasionally rode to hounds. It was a wholesome exercise in his experience, and as such was not unattended with benefit; for with racy cheerfulness he would remark that physical health was a grand ally of moral usefulness. The Doctor was a warm advocate of social intercourse. The more the clergy and laity associate with one another, it was his custom to observe, the better for both. Each needs the other’s influence as a corrective, the clergy being as a rule narrow and inclined to crotchets are apt to look only on the theological side of things, while the laity on the contrary, are more disposed to consider what is possible and very seldom miss what is right.

The Doctor was a pleasant slave to that gentle sport which good old Izaac Walton loved so well. It was a source of unalloyed happiness to him to go to his

“Beloved caves! from Dog-stars’ heat
And all anxieties a safe retreat,”

And “By some river, to whose falls melodious birds sing madrigals,” to pitch his tent, to air his tackle, and with deft dexterity, whip the water, with his well-wrought line, and watch with a speculative smile whether that pretty imposition, the feathered bait, would provoke the silver beauty of the pool, now playing at liberty, to rise from her sportive bed, and from sheer wantonness, like “love in idleness,” become the trophy of his line, and the prisoner of his net. He was as skilful with his gun as with his rod. To breast the mountain for grouse, or beat the stubble for partridge, or roam the prairies for larger game, exerted genial influences over body and mind. Indeed, he frequently said that his skill in sport, though a recreation in later life, was of great practical value to him in earlier[Pg 278] days, for when he had a large family and a small income, a visible tythe roll and no visible tythes, he was enabled, by favor of the Lord of the manor, and with the aid of his rod and gun, to supply his table with dainties when it was by no means as easy to furnish it with necessaries.

The like energy of character showed itself in the performance of his clerical duties. In works of charity and kindness, of benevolence and philanthropy, his services were always to be had. If special sermons were to be preached, those who were interested in obtaining large collections accounted themselves fortunate when they could secure him for such occasions. Good looks, good manners, good voice, and a good address are among the auxiliary qualifications for a good speaker. Dr. Adamson possessed these in a very marked degree, and when we add that his style was polished, his thoughts original, his diction nervous, and his manner impassioned, it will not be difficult to conclude that he was very effective as a preacher. On such an occasion, when leaving the Cathedral of Quebec, a Highlander, who neither resided at that city nor belonged to the Anglican Church, but who attended on that day from sheer curiosity, said to the writer in a broad Scotch accent, “I have been in Canada for forty years, and no priest or parson till to-day ever got a dollar out of me. But,” he added, “if my one dollar bill had been a ten dollar bill, yon man should have had it for his sermon.” On the writer suggesting that the remaining nine dollars might be enclosed, and the cause to that extent benefitted, “Tut, mon,” was the answer, “I didna care for the cause, I only cared for the eloquence.” The Doctor was an exact and skilful reader; he had studied reading as a fine art, and he read the Holy Scriptures not only with singular reverence, but unquestionable effect. He was, of course, incapable of their errors who read the sacred word as if it were a human drama, neither did he fall into the opposite mistake of those who mouth and mumble it, as if they were engaged in a kind of underground service, which can only be performed in a key unsuited to[Pg 279] the higher air. In like manner, when reading the prayers, Dr. Adamson seemed to be governed by old Herbert’s recommendation that the Church prayers ought to be prayed. He was especially anxious to slur nothing, to slight nothing, to neglect nothing, that belonged to the service of the sanctuary. He wished to do all things reverently and in order, and he succeeded.

Children and the inferior animals loved him and he them, for his nature glowed with sympathy towards most living things. It was a pleasant sight to see his troop of dogs grouping themselves about him on his return home, and presenting their cold noses to his regard to receive the touch of kindness which they were sure to get; or to see his mouse coloured cats, from sheer affection, twine and twist about his feet and polish his boots with their glossy skins, till the hint was given to them to perch on his table or to nestle on his knee. The visitor must occasionally have been reminded of Goldsmith’s Parson, and occasionally of Præd’s Vicar. The shy bookworm, the vagrant sportsman, the “ruined spendthrift,” or the “broken soldier,” were not unfrequently guests at the Doctor’s table; and the belated traveller or the casual passenger might turn into his modest mansion, “claim kindred there, and have the claim allowed.” The cordiality of his greeting was an infection which seemed to run through his household. The dogs and even the cats of the family seemed to catch it, and according to their capacities make it known to you.

And Don and Sancho, Tramp and Tray,
Upon the parlour steps collected,
Wagg’d all their tails, and seem’d to say,
“Our master knows you; you’re expected.”
*         *         *        *         *         *
Whate’er the stranger’s caste or creed,
Pundit or Papist, saint or sinner,
He found a stable for his steed,
[Pg 280] And welcome for himself, and dinner.
If when he reach’d his journey’s end,
And warm’d himself in court or college,
He had not gain’d an honest friend,
And twenty curious scraps of knowledge;—
If he departed as he came,
With no new light on love or liquor,—
Good sooth, the traveller was to blame,
And not the vicarage, nor the vicar.
His talk was like a stream which runs
With rapid change from rocks to roses:
It slipp’d from politics to puns;
It pass’d from Mahomet to Moses:
Beginning with the laws which keep
The planets in their radiant courses,
And ending with some precept deep
For dressing eels, or shoeing horses.


*         *         *        *         *         *


He wrote too, in a quiet way,
Small treatises, and smaller verses;
And sage remarks on chalk and clay,
And hints to noble Lords, and nurses;
True histories of last year’s ghost,
Lines to a ringlet, or a turban;
And trifles for the Morning Post,
And nothings for Sylvanus Urban.[4]


*         *         *        *         *         *


And he was kind, and loved to sit
In the low hut, or garnish’d cottage,
And praise the farmer’s homely wit,
And share the widow’s homelier pottage:
At his approach complaint grew mild;
And when his hand unbarred the shutter,
The clammy lips of Fever smiled
The welcome, which they could not utter.

Hic jacet. The tenanted grave in the cemetery of Montreal tells where he rests; the unoccupied place in the community of Ottawa instructs us that he has left no successor.


[1] Since this paper was written we have heard of the decease of this gentleman.

[2] A memoir of George Jehoshaphat Mountain, D.D., D.C.L., late Bishop of Quebec, compiled (at the desire of the Synod of that Diocese) by his son Armine W. Mountain, M.A., Incumbent of St. Michael’s chapel, Quebec.

[3] The subject of the original sonnet was a fisherman of the Scottish border, but as the editor is unacquainted with the name of the author, he hopes to be excused by him and by the public for having used some freedom in adapting the sonnet to his sketch.

[4] Besides such “nothings,” Dr. Adamson contributed occasionally to Blackwood and the Dublin University Magazine as well as to some minor serials. The Bibliotheca Canadensis informs us that sermons by him were published on the following subjects: The death of Lord Sydenham; Things to be Remembered; On the order of Divine Service Daily throughout the year; On the Churching of Women; Human suffering and Heavenly sympathy; Fast Sermon on the War between Great Britain and Russia, and an 8vo volume on Salmon Fishing in Canada.

[The end of Portraits of British Americans (1865-68) Volume 3 by Taylor Fennings]