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Title: Portraits of British Americans (1865-68) Volume 1 of 3

Date of first publication: 1865

Author: Fennings Taylor, 1817-1882

Date first posted: Aug. 31, 2016

Date last updated: Aug. 31, 2016

Faded Page eBook #20160823

This ebook was produced by: Marcia Brooks, David T. Jones, Alex White & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net



















Vol. I.







Portraits of British Americans


His Excellency Viscount Monck,

The Most Reverend Francis Fulford, D.D., Metropolitan,

Honorable John A. Macdonald, D.C.L.,

Honorable S. L. Tilley,

Honorable Sir Louis H. Lafontaine, Bart,

His Excellency Sir William Fenwick Williams, Bart, K.C.B.,

Colonel The Honorable Sir Etienne Pascal Tache,

Reverend Alexander Mathieson, D.D.,

Honorable John Sandfield Macdonald,

Honorable George Moffatt,

Honorable George Etienne Cartier,

J. William Dawson, Esq., LL.D.,

Honorable James Ferrier,

The Right Reverend Jean Jacques Lartigue,

Honorable William Morris,

His Excellency Sir Richard Graves Macdonnell, C.B.,

Honorable Edward Bowen,

Honorable Antoine Aime Dorion,

Honorable Alexander Campbell,

Reverend William Leitch, D.D.,

James Hodges, Esq.,

Honorable Joseph Howe,

Honorable Rene Edouard Caron,

Lt. Colonel Irvine,

Honorable Thomas Talbot,

Charles John Brydges, Esq.,

Right Reverend John Thomas Mullock, D.D.,

Honorable Isaac Buchanan,

Honorable Joseph Cauchon,

Samuel Wentworth Monk, Esq.,










Deputy Clerk, and Clerk Assistant of the Legislative Council of Canada.

It may not be out of place to repeat here, and by way of introduction, some of the considerations which led us to think that a Literary and Illustrated Serial, exclusively devoted to the portraiture of British Americans, would at the present time be regarded with especial favor by the inhabitants of British America.

Did it not seem somewhat presumptuous, we should be inclined, as we make our bow, to glance a compliment at our own sagacity, and upon the very doorstep of our enterprize speak of the success of our venture in the accents of confidence, instead of the language of hope. The chill and shiver of uncertainty have been removed or qualified by the notes of kindness and encouragement which have reached us from all quarters. Hints of great value have been gathered with pains, and given to us with freedom. Gentlemen in different and distant places have, unsolicited, gratified us by requesting the insertion of their names on our lists of subscribers; and, generally, we have received from every class of the community such expressions of cordial good will, as not only assure us that our Portraits will satisfy a public need, but also that the public will shew its appreciation by satisfying us for our Portraits.

The truth is, events of great national importance are hourly passing into history. Public opinion is visibly acquiring new animation. Political aspirations, moved by unseen influences, like the tide in spring, are rising to a purer level. Statesmen of different parties, appreciating the requirements of the hour, forgetting alike the rivalries and jealousies of the past, are agreed in declaring that the time is come when the power of these separated Provinces should be consolidated, when their individual strength should be knit together; when, as one great Monarchical Confederacy, they should practice in unison the graver duties of Government, should accept the burden of new obligations, and the administration of new trusts.

Proceedings and events so unique in themselves cannot be viewed apart from their authors; and we should miss much of their meaning were we to attempt to interpret them without reference to their opponents. The canvas which encloses the historic tracery should include also the personal portraiture. The strife of opinion should represent the parties to that strife. We care not to separate the act from the actors, the accepted design from the competitive designers; on the contrary, we acknowledge the relationship, and recognize propriety in unity. What has been done, and what is now being done, are however matters of state policy, not necessary to be discussed here; but the subject suggests the observation, and, we hope, warrants the opinion, that standing, as we may be said to be, on the threshold of new and great events, the time is propitious for collecting in a form, not unworthy of being preserved, notes and sketches not only of men who are now filling, but of those also who have in years past filled, positions of responsibility and honor in the political and social history of the British American Provinces.

The wish to possess, even in an imperfect form, the resemblance of individuals whose names are familiar to us, is a very natural one. Indeed such desires have almost become conventional habits, which we make little effort to restrain, and none to disguise.

The growing taste for collecting likenesses is not attributable to a passing fashion merely; it has its root in the better parts of our nature, and derives its nourishment from the higher sentiments of the mind—from reverence and respect, from the love of kindred and the charms of friendship, from the regard for private worth or from the appreciation of public service. It is no evanescent impulse, but a chronic craving, a craving that had existence when the means of gratification, if not wholly beyond reach, were laid aside among the expensive and almost unattainable privileges of life. At the present day however such acquisitions are within the attainment of all. The sun himself has become the limner. Science has unlocked her secrets; Art has applied them, while knowledge and experience have taught us that light, the first, the purest, and the most universal of God’s gifts, has, by fusion with subtle agencies, become the source, it is scarcely an exaggeration to say, of the most cherished and economical of man’s luxuries.

No lengthened introduction is needed in regard to that part of our project which relates especially to the illustrations, except indeed to state that every pains will be taken to make the work equal in all respects, in its minute and general characteristics, in its artistic and mechanical attractions, to the best and most exact specimens of Photographic art. In addition to the style and finish which commonly belong to work done at his studio, it is Mr. Notman’s intention to bestow, if it be possible, even more than his usual pains on every Portrait that may appear in the forthcoming Serial; so that each subject may be represented in a manner as true, natural, and lifelike, as it is possible for Art, combined with knowledge and experience, to effect.

The plan which has found favor in England with respect to similar publications will be attempted here. Each monthly part will contain five Portraits, to be separately mounted on delicately tinted paper, especially prepared for the work. Each portrait, moreover, will be accompanied with notes and sketches, which, like index posts on the highway, though, peradventure, neither elegant nor picturesque in themselves, may at all events be found useful in directing the inquirer to where he may arrive at more perfect knowledge and more exact observation. The notes and sketches accompanying each part will usually be completed in thirty-two pages of letterpress. Occasionally, when the subjects are of more than ordinary interest, this limit will be exceeded; but no extra charge to subscribers will be made on account of such excess.

In speaking for himself, the Editor may perhaps be allowed to observe, that the duty he has undertaken to discharge was not of his seeking; for he and the author of the project were wholly unknown to one another. It was the desire of Mr. Notman that the Sketches should be written fairly and impartially, free alike from extravagant eulogy on the one hand, or cynical ill-nature on the other. With this object in view, it was supposed by him that a gentleman whose duties did not necessarily bring him into confidential intercourse with any member or estate of the Government, who had for many years been connected with the Legislature, who had consequently enjoyed fair opportunities of observing the course of public events, and had been brought into almost daily contact with the public men of all parties, would, from inclination and experience, as well as from the habit of equable impartiality that is almost inseparable from official life, be disposed to trace such records with a gentle hand, and make criticism subservient alike to justice and courtesy.

There is, too, in connection with this point, another consideration which, perhaps, may be regarded as a type of thought, in a certain sense peculiar to and inseparable from the minds of those whose lot, in the British Provinces, has been cast in the public service of the State. Removed by their position from the radius of party attraction, placed outside, so to speak, of the maelstrom of factional strife, the observant members of this class have not failed to note, and they have done so with regret, that there exists in the community, no matter from what cause, a proneness to disparage the position and abase the influence of our public men; to belittle their titles to consideration; to discredit generally the presence of high principle, and challenge particularly any claim to patriotic motives; to sneer at humble and jest at obscure origin; to remember with exaggerated precision what it were generous to forget, and forget with facile indifference what it were just to remember; to speak coldly of manly struggles, and to withhold from intelligent success all graceful recognition. It is true that persistent integrity may, for it sometimes does, win in the end; but the contest is not equal, neither can the final triumph of right make us oblivious to those features of the play that blemished the struggle. Our purpose, however, is not to discuss a state of things more easily accounted for than excused. On the contrary, we refer to them by way of introducing the remark, that as our Serial is issued for no partizan object, neither will it be edited on any partizan principle.

There is, moreover, a condition with respect to contemporary biography that should never be lost sight of, namely, the difficulty of treating fairly an incomplete career. While he lives, the personal history of a man survives; and he, therefore, who should attempt to judge such an one before the time, would necessarily judge partially and from imperfect data. Under such circumstances it is safer to record facts than to draw conclusions. In another sense than the highest, it may be said of each of us, “we know not what we shall be.” In the face of such ignorance it would be an offence against taste, and it might be an offence against truth, to assert of one still living that such was the character and such the issue of a life; for the latest act of existence, like the codicil of a will, by revealing a new motive, may change the opinion of the critic, baffle his conclusions, and compel him to see in the act of another the error of his own thought. Great reticence will, therefore, be observed on such points: for our work would miss, or over-reach its object if, by any means it should become instrumental in inflicting a public hurt or a private wound.

It is not, however, with contemporary biography alone that we propose to deal. We hope to be able, by diligent research, and with the assistance of others, to gather together some of the scraps and fragments of individual history, which may still linger, like traditional lore, in the crevices of memory, or be preserved, like forgotten relics, in out of the way or unfrequented places. It is difficult to meet the elders of a young country like our own without experiencing sensations of regret that so little pains should have been taken to perpetuate in some imperishable form the amusing and occasionally striking incidents of days past,—incidents which, if industry will not preserve, time must destroy. Such gleanings of personal narrative acquire value as the stream of events rolls on; and since general history is but the aggregate of individual history, he may be regarded as contributing to the more perfect whole, who shall succeed in gathering together some of the essential parts. Many sympathetic friends will, it is believed, gladly help forward such an object; and all such may be sure that their honorable, confidences will neither be abused nor betrayed. The pioneers and founders of a State, of whatever profession or calling, will generally be found to be men of great force of character, as well as of an adventurous turn of mind, who are more inclined to perform heroic deeds than to record them. The descendants of such men still live amongst us. The traditional, and in some instances the recorded transactions of such lives may yet be recovered; and the lessons which the narratives should teach of courage, loyalty, devotion, high principle, and stainless honor, would not only promote innocent gratification and mental pleasure, but might, by exciting a sense of laudable emulation, tend to our moral and national good.

In bespeaking the assistance and co-operation of all who cherish towards our work any sentiment of sympathy, we may, perhaps, be allowed to add, that our wish is to collect and gather together what the historian would probably pass by, and the statistician would certainly reject; namely, those incidents of domestic and personal adventure, that underlie or are concurrent with the greater drama of History and Government. Had we no materials wherewith to lighten the sterner narrative of our progress, then of course nothing could be said; but such is not the case. The incidents of the early French colonization, with their wonderful accompaniments of chivalrous adventure and missionary zeal, have their place in history, and belong chiefly to Eastern Canada. These, we hope, to some extent at least, to be able to place before our English speaking population. Yet we should not forget that the life story of the sister Provinces is neither less alluring nor less heroic. Upper Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, are marked with the footprints of faithfulness and devotion. The vestiges of moral and patriotic worth lie scattered about the land. Imperfect they must be, for, like the inscriptions on broken grave-stones, time has destroyed some, obscured others, and defaced all. Still they are worthy of being gathered together, worthy of being patiently studied, as the moral relics of a race which, it is to be feared, has no counterpart now. Let the hoar and moss of years be reverently removed. Let us carefully decipher whatever appears to be obscure, and, if possible, recover the faded records. Let us directly or indirectly seek the representatives of earlier days, and listen kindly to old tales of by-gone times, for we may be sure the traditions we may thus gather will help to perfect the record of events, which connects the present with the past. Then, perchance, we shall understand aright the principles and characters of the “United Empire Loyalists,”—of a race of men who, rather than bow down to the Republican idol which their faithless countrymen had set up, abandoned their possession and forsook their kindred, to become the founders of colonies whose creation it is no exaggeration to say was the offspring of sentiment and devotion,—a Monarch’s tribute to his subjects’ faith.

Montreal, May, 1865.


Some by royal command, others by personal election, and more by the force of circumstances, have found their lots cast in the British American possessions. The life story of such individuals is, partially at all events, contemporaneous with the progress of the country; and we shall do little wrong, either to history or them, by placing their portraits in our gallery side by side with those whose boast is, that “this is their own, their native land.”

The first in order as in rank is, in the language of the Royal Patent, “His Excellency the Right Honorable Charles Stanley Viscount Monck, of Ballytrammon, in the County of Wexford, Governor General of British North America, and Captain General and Governor-in-Chief in and over the Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Island of Prince Edward, and Vice-Admiral of the same.”

We learn further, on reference to those very communicative books, “Dodd’s Peerage” and “Walford’s County Families,” that His Excellency “is the eldest son of Charles Joseph Kelly, third Viscount; by Bridget, daughter of John Willington, Esquire, of Kilkoskehane, in the County of Tipperary; that he was born in 1819, and succeeded to the title in 1849; and that in 1844 he married the Lady Elizabeth, fourth daughter of the first Earl of Rathdown.” Besides being a Justice of the Peace, we read that His Excellency “is Deputy lieutenant of the County of Wicklow; that he represented Portsmouth in the House of Commons; was a Lord of the Treasury, and Lord Privy Seal to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.”

To be territorially and officially connected with two such counties as Wexford and Wicklow might well excite some pardonable pride. It is pleasant to read of Irish counties whose landlords are for the most part resident; whose estates generally are not racked, and whose populations, therefore, are happy and prosperous. Nor is our interest diminished by noting the peculiarities of the peasantry; the brightness of their attire, and the joyous character of their temperament. The hilarity with which, on extraordinary occasions,—on holiday and festival,—both men and women cast away care, might excite unrestrained envy, were it not qualified by the further information that the former on ordinary ones cast away work. The laborers, like the idle gentry of other lands, are as averse to a superfluity of toil as they are fond of a superfluity of clothing. The latter peculiarity shows itself in them as it did in the exquisites of forty years ago, or in the grave-digger class of the days of Hamlet, by a passion for wearing, at the same time and at all seasons, a plurality of many-colored waistcoats, to say nothing of one “trusty” on their backs and another over their shoulders. Thus it may be charitably conjectured that the peasantry of Wexford and Wicklow redeem the playful inclination of their lives by the picturesque character of their appearance. Indeed their precautions to keep out the weather might be praiseworthy, did they not become impediments to the performance of work. There is, too, another especial local trait which should not pass unnoticed. The habit of ungrudging hospitality, so common to the Irish race, seems to be the especial attribute of the people of those counties. The phrase “keeping open house” is not a figurative one. The benevolent disposition expressed by this benevolent phrase pervades all ranks, and is common to every class; for even poverty and wretchedness are made happier by the practice of it. The word “welcome” seems to be stereotyped alike on castle and cabin; and the lord and laborer appear to vie with one another in showing the Christian grace of hospitality. Qualities such as these become second nature to those who observe them; and they may, to some extent, account for the peculiar social charm which is said to distinguish His Excellency the Governor General.

The nobility and gentry of Ireland, as a class, may have been prodigal in their expenditures and not very conservative in the management of their estates, still the personal inheritance of a gracious courtesy appears to have descended from father to son with a kind of heir-loom regularity; nor in truth is such a possession to be lightly esteemed. Manner, like music, possesses a charm more sensibly felt than accurately described. The glow and kindliness that wait on the former, in the influence they exert, resemble the joy and pleasure diffused by the latter. Both, in the first instance, are nature’s endowments, but both are amenable to the laws of cultivation, and to the considerations by which those laws are controlled. Still it should not be forgotten that a bright and cordial manner, like many other things attractive in themselves, has its drawbacks as well as its advantages. There is, we know, a prejudice with some, that gaiety of thought is inconsistent with exact study, and that a mind which is sympathetic towards mirth is not well inclined towards business. Thus men will think, notwithstanding the fact that Lord Palmerston lives to refute their theories, and to prove to all that a merry heart and a clear head may lodge together, and give the world not only “assurance of a man,” but of a wise man too.

His “social gait,” however, in the case of Lord Monck, was the cause of some criticism, and became the point of many objections on his nomination to the office of Governor General of Canada. It was alleged, and with some show of reason, that a manifest departure had taken place with respect to the rule of preferment which was supposed to govern the Colonial Minister in the selection of Colonial Governors. Viceroys and laborious pro-Consuls found their promotion stopped by the unlooked for appointment of a nobleman who had seen no service in the duties of their order. Some forty-crown dependencies, in the persons of their rulers, may thus directly or indirectly have felt themselves aggrieved, and through many avenues of articulation have found the means of giving utterance to their complaints. Therefore was it stated, by way of objection, that “Lord Monck was an inexperienced and unknown man,” that “he was to try his ’prentice hand at government for the first time, and at a period, too, when the history of Canada was critical;” that at “such a crisis ministers persuade their sovereign to delegate her functions in her greatest Province, save one, to a nobleman utterly unpractised in any kind of statesmanlike work.” The Governor General, it was alleged, “was at no time a cypher in Canada, and least of all so then;” for though Responsible Government, it was observed, “may have impaired his executive strength, it had not weakened his directing and suggestive influence.” The role of a Governor General’s duties was elaborately rehearsed. His Excellency was considerately premonished that, with respect to local affairs, he would have to fulfil the office of a Moderator, and with respect to foreign ones, to discharge the functions of a Diplomatist. In the latter character he would be required to interpret the relations between Great Britain and those irritable States, some of which overlap the Provincial frontier. He was furthermore, with tact as well as wisdom, to bend the prejudices of the Province to the policy of the Empire. He was to stir the feelings of the people on the subject of defence, and to still them on the subject of aggression. He was to excite them to warlike activity, and soothe them to rigid neutrality. He was to be the Commander-in-Chief of a militia not organized, and Vice-Admiral of a fleet that had no existence. In short, the prospect for His Excellency was made as uncomfortable as possible, while the ministry which nominated him was menaced with anticipatory censure.

As a historical coincidence, and by way of comparison, it may be observed that twice only in the recent history of Canada has the wisdom of the Royal selection of Governor General been challenged by any considerable portion of the English press; and since the occasions are not dissimilar, either with respect to the gravity of the subjects to be dealt with, or with respect to the popular qualifications of the individuals selected, it may not be out of place to note the parallel.

Upon the abrupt and somewhat inglorious termination of Lord Durham’s five months’ Canadian reign, the ministry of Lord Melbourne found itself suddenly called upon to appoint a new Governor General on whom should devolve the duty of prosecuting the work which the irritable Earl had left incomplete.

To the astonishment of the influential classes in England, and the dismay of the commercial classes in Canada, the Statesman chosen was no other than the Right Honorable Charles Poulett Thomson, the then President of the Board of Trade. Those who remember the severe animadversions of the press on the appointment, the angry comments and gloomy forebodings to which the selection gave rise, will probably be inclined to receive such opinions from such sources with considerable reserve. “Stop the Pique,” “Stop the Pique,” wrote one with more passion than judgment; “don’t freight an English frigate with an English Governor whose policy is to destroy English rule in America.” “Don’t intrust the government of that important Province to one who has distinguished himself chiefly by his antipathy to the Canada Timber Trade, and for his attachment to Baltic interests.” “Don’t send one to govern who has had no experience of government,” who is moreover “corrupt and indolent,” “frail in health and feeble in purpose,” and whose “despatch box, if carried in one hand, must be balanced by a medicine chest in the other,” and, moreover, who acknowledges as a political ally that member of the House of Commons who had counselled Canadians to “shake off the baneful domination of the Mother Country.”

The time has not arrived for prosecuting the parallel to completion, for the Colonial career of the present Governor is not yet determined; but it may be consoling to remark, in passing, that if, in the accuracy of their knowledge, the newspapers of 1860 resemble the newspapers of 1840, His Excellency need have little to apprehend with respect to their criticisms on his capacity, or their predictions on the question of the success or failure of his rule.

The allusion to the name and memory of Lord Sydenham carries our recollections a quarter of a century backwards. We recall the time when the two Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada stood towards one another in the relation of an exacting Bridegroom and a reluctant Bride. The former possessing opportunity and the guardian’s favor, and the latter a fair presence, and money in the Bank. The settlements were arranged, and the marriage took place; and though the love was not of a demonstrative order, still there were not wanting at that day some, like Mrs. Malaprop in the “Rivals,” who consoled themselves for the absence of affection by the comforting assurance that after all, “it was better to begin with a little aversion.”

The 10th of February is doubtless a marked day in the history of England, and it is especially so in the history of Canada; for on the 10th of February, 1763, the Provinces were ceded by France to England. On the 10th of February, 1838, the Bill for suspending the Constitution of Lower Canada received the Royal sanction; and on the 10th February, 1841, the Proclamation was made which created the Province of Canada.

It was not, we may well imagine, to commemorate a British victory or a Canadian misfortune that the 10th of February was selected for re-uniting the separated Provinces. No doubt the day was chosen by authority, and the reason for the choice, it may be easily conjectured, was to associate the political fortunes of the Canadas with the personal history of our most gracious Queen.

The Provincial espousals took place on the first anniversary of Her Majesty’s marriage with the great and Good Prince Consort; but the political union had not attained its turbulent majority when the personal one was dissolved by death. The touch of time at which the type crumbled, seemed also to leave the mark of dissolution on the antitype. The grave which had been prepared to enclose the former, only pre-figured another grave which seemed to be opening rapidly to receive the latter.

Such facts should recall gloomy memories, while they suggest the commentary that the fortunes of Canada, as exemplified in her rulers, have been wreathed more with cypress than with bays.

The Earl of Durham, who advocated a British American Confederation, and accepted a Canadian union, died five days after the Act was passed which embodied his counsels.

Lord Sydenham, who in person opened the first session of the United Parliament, was not in person permitted to close that session, for almost the last act of his ebbing life was to delegate to another the duty with which, by the gracious permission of his Sovereign, he had intended to determine his Canadian career. The sunset of that evening was the last this gifted Statesman was permitted to see. By the light of the following day the heralds might have received back again the unfolded, unworn ribbon of the Bath, and have noted in their College records that it was restored to Royalty by the representative of “The first and last Baron Sydenham.”

His successor, the courtly and gifted Sir Charles Bagot, the very beau-ideal of manly grace and beauty, had scarcely entered on his government when he was stricken with mortal disease, and within fifteen months after his arrival in Canada, expired in the house in which his predecessor had died.

Sir Charles Bagot was succeeded by the benevolent and large-hearted Lord Metcalfe, whose career would have been eloquent in instruction, had it left no other lesson than the example of unswerving fortitude triumphing over mortal suffering, of the highest duty cheerfully performed in the presence of excruciating agony, most patiently endured. His work done, this great and good man returned to England to die, and with his death expired his newly created title, for on his tomb the words are written “The first and last Lord Metcalfe.”

Earl Cathcart was already an aged man when he became Governor General, and it is therefore no matter for surprise that his martial name should be found on the roll of those who have passed away.

The accomplished and versatile Earl of Elgin replaced his military predecessor, and it was reasonable to suppose that such vigorous manhood as his seemed to be would have won the crown of age. The supposition is rebuked by his quiet grave amidst Asiatic hills, where, in a heathen land, solitary and alone, the wearied Statesman, the humble Christian, sleeps in peace.

On the roll call of our Governors who for twenty years have represented the Crown in Canada, one alone survives. We cannot mention his name without at the same time thinking of the inextinguishable sorrow with which he who bears it must evermore recur to his residence in this Province. The troubled waters of the St. Maurice, and the quiet grave at Sillery, recall as in a vision, not only the generous, open-hearted boy, who perished in one and sleeps in the other; but they tell also of the direct line of a good old family cut off—a good name passing away, or, if preserved at all, preserved only on a tombstone. If it be true that our late Governor General, the high-minded and gifted Sir Edmund Head, obtained the Queen’s permission to decline a coronet,—then those waters and that grave tell us also of a stainless career arrested; a glorious goal reached, and then avoided; the prize of honor won, and yet declined; the aim of a life realized, and yet lost. Death and sorrow, we may conjecture, had closed the avenue of ambition; and thus it may have been that one nearly peerless among rulers could not be attracted to the assembly of Peers. The official records of Royalty, on the page of distinctions conferred for services in Canada will not, at all events for the third time in one generation, be blotted with a new entry on the roll of the extinct Peerages of England.

In one form or other, directly or indirectly, it may be said that death has, with remarkable assiduity, overtaken all who have held the commission of Governor General of Canada. The great British Province of the West, like Her Majesty’s possessions in the East, seems to have been a kind of fatal vestibule, through which successive rulers have hastened hurriedly to the grave.

If the personal history of his predecessors in the government of Canada was not of a tranquilizing order, neither was the general state of the Province at the time of Lord Monck’s succession very well calculated to dispel anxiety. Political parties had been, and continued to be, greatly excited. Government, it is true, was carried on, and in the Legislative Assembly by means of respectable majorities; but it was difficult to get rid of the impression which was keenly felt by many, and strongly expressed by some, that the persistent administration of public affairs by means of a single sectional majority, was not to be desired even though it could not be avoided.

In addition moreover to these local embarrassments, which the healing influence of time, or the salutary presence of temper would assuredly have overcome, there arose unexpectedly a foreign question, in comparison with which all local difficulties seemed to fade into nothingness. The affair of “The Trent” suddenly brought the Government of Great Britain and the United States into attitudes of imminent hostility.

Thus it was the guidance of the opinion and the direction of the zeal of an excitable population, was found to be one of the earliest duties that devolved on the New Governor General. That this delicate trust was wisely discharged, may be safely assumed; for the subsequent course of events seemed to shew that Imperial policy was carried out with sagacious subordination no matter whether the instructed hand was moved at Washington or at Quebec.

With the partial subsidence of the Foreign question, the domestic difficulties again recovered their former consistency, and were brought to a crisis on the 20th of May, 1862, by the defeat of the Cartier-Macdonald ministry, and their subsequent resignation.

On the 24th of the same month the Sandfield Macdonald-Sicotte Government was officially announced in the Canada Gazette. On the 12th of May following, Parliament was prorogued with a view to its dissolution; and on the 16th of the same month the public was informed of the appointment of three new members of the Executive Council as successors to a similar number who had resigned. The Cabinet as thus reconstructed, became known as the Sandfield Macdonald-Dorion Government. But the two-fold experiment of a dissolution of Parliament, and a reconstruction of the Cabinet, added but little to the numerical supporters of the Government. The elections resulted, as is usual in such cases, in certain individual changes, but the numbers ranged respectively on either side of the House, remained about the same as they were in the previous Parliament, nor were the sectional disparities very materially altered. The short Session in the Autumn of 1863 shewed with what slender majorities the ministry was sustained; and the public, being prepared for some change, felt no surprise when, soon after the opening of the following session in February, 1864, the Sandfield Macdonald-Dorion Government resigned.

On the 30th of March, the Ministry of Sir E. P. Taché was gazetted, and became popularly known as the Taché-Macdonald Government. Such, however, was the feverish state of the rival parties in the Legislative Assembly, and so evenly were their respective numbers balanced, that in less than three months after its formation, the new Ministry, on the 14th of June, found itself in a minority of two, on a subject so peculiar and important as to be tantamount to a non-confidence vote. The gravity of the case could scarcely be exaggerated, for the way of escape from the political difficulty was by no means plain. Two courses only presented themselves, namely, a coalition of parties, or a dissolution of Parliament. The former had been attempted by the previous Government, and had resulted in failure. The latter might be resorted to, but still statesmen of approved experience, and from a sense of responsibility, would, under the circumstances of the case, regard such an alternative with feelings of regret, if not of anxiety.

On the following day a very important interview took place between His Excellency the Governor General, and Sir E. P. Taché. From the published Memoranda the following particulars are extracted:

After reciting the Resolution, on the merits of which no opinion need be expressed in this place, Sir E. P. Taché observes:

“This Resolution was carried by a vote of 60 to 58, and thereupon the House adjourned.

“The undersigned has consulted his colleagues, and submitted the state of the case to them; and they have come unanimously to the conclusion that, although the motion is a censure on an administration not now existing, for an official act which occurred five years ago; yet, under the circumstances in which this vote was carried, it must be regarded as a vote of want of confidence, and as indicating the withdrawal of the support of the House from Your Excellency’s advisers.

“The undersigned begs to call the attention of Your Excellency to the circumstances under which the present administration accepted the responsibilities of office, and to point out that they have successfully obtained the support of Parliament to all their measures, and which measures they have every reason to believe are satisfactory to the country.

“The undersigned therefore, with the concurrence of his colleagues, begs to tender the advice to Your Excellency that they should be empowered to appeal from this vote, made by a Parliament not elected when they were Your Excellency’s advisers, to the people themselves, in whose decision they have every confidence.

“June 15, 1864.”

On this statement His Excellency was pleased to make the following


“The Governor General has attentively considered the Memorandum submitted to him on Wednesday last by Sir E. P. Taché, containing the views of himself and his colleagues on the Resolution which passed the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday night, and their advice that they should be empowered to appeal from that vote of the House to the people.

“Before proceeding to give any answer to the request contained in this Memorandum, the Governor General is desirous to call the attention of the Members of the Executive Council to the position in which political parties in the Province are now, and have been for a considerable time placed.

“The House of Assembly, returned at the General Election in the year 1861, by successive votes declared its want of confidence in Ministries representing respectively the two parties into which it was divided.

“In May, 1863, a dissolution, the constitutional consequence of such a state of facts, resulted in the return of a House in which the Government, under the leadership of Mr. J.S. Macdonald and Mr. Dorion, found itself so weak that its Members, after the experience of the whole of the Autumn Session of 1863 and a portion of the Session of 1864, resigned their places in the month of March last, without having ever incurred actual defeat.

“During this period no question involving any great principle, or calculated to prevent politicians, on public grounds, from acting in concert, had been raised in Parliament. Under these circumstances, the Governor General, on the resignation of Mr. Sandfield Macdonald’s Government, conceived that the time had arrived when an appeal might, with propriety, be made to the patriotism of gentlemen on both sides of the House, to throw aside personal differences, and to unite in the formation of a Government strong enough to advance the general interests of the country.

“The Governor General deeply regrets that this attempt to form a Government, representing politicians kept asunder by no difference of opinion on public questions, should have then failed.

“The present Government was at that time formed on a distinctive party basis, and the course of events, since it came into power, has only given further proof of the evenly balanced condition of political parties in the House, and of the absence of public grounds for antagonism between them.

“The further continuance of such a state of things is very prejudicial to the best interests of the Province, and it is very doubtful whether a General Election would materially alter the relative position of parties.

“The Governor General does not consider it would be right for him to enter into any examination of the character of the Resolution come to by the House on Tuesday night; he may, however, without impropriety, express his regret that it appears to have produced an impression on the minds of those affected by it likely to render a junction of parties more difficult.

“The Governor General still adheres to the opinion that such an amalgamation of parties is the course calculated to confer the largest amount of benefit on the Province, and earnestly hopes that means may be found for effecting such an arrangement, without doing violence to the self-respect of any gentleman connected with Canadian politics.

“The Governor General desires to commend the views expressed in this Memorandum to the serious consideration of the Members of the Executive Council, and would be glad to be furnished with the opinion of Sir E. P. Taché and his colleagues upon them; and while giving them the assurance that he is prepared to act on their advice, trusts that some means may be devised for obviating the necessity for an appeal to the country under present circumstances.”

This important Memorandum was gracefully acknowledged by Sir E. P. Taché in the following words:


“The undersigned has the honor to convey to Your Excellency the thanks of his colleagues and himself for the confidence shewn in them by Your Excellency’s acceptance of their advice.

“The Executive Council fully concur with Your Excellency as to the expediency of avoiding, if possible, an appeal to the country under the circumstances referred to in Your Excellency’s Memorandum; and they desire the undersigned to assure you that they will not cease in their efforts to effect the formation of an administration, without having recourse to a dissolution, which will obtain the confidence of Parliament and of the country.

“June 17, 1864.”

These published papers are honorable to the representative of the Queen, and to the head of the Canadian Ministry—both were evidently moved by a sense of the like responsibilities, the like anxieties, and the like opinions of the course to be pursued. While unreservedly pledging himself to act on the advice of his Council, His Excellency adds the expression of his trust, that under the circumstances in which the country was then placed, an appeal to the people by election might, if possible, be avoided. The occasions are exceedingly rare, on which the Queen’s representative may with propriety promulgate a personal opinion on a point of State policy; and the Governor General who shall at any time successfully depart from this rule of silence may be presumed to display both courage and wisdom.

Thus it was at the time in question. In and out of Parliament all felt that the period had arrived when His Excellency should speak. No word of complaint followed the unusual proceeding; on the contrary, every one admitted the occasion was propitious, and the counsel was just. Great indeed was popular anxiety to discover whether such words of wisdom would awaken any corresponding act of patriotism. The people began to recognize what His Excellency plainly saw, that prominent men of all shades of opinion were kept apart, more by the recollection of personal, than by the existence of political, differences. The grave question, for instance, of a change in the basis of Parliamentary representation, had ceased to be the property of one party only. The statesmen then in power, like their Parliamentary opponents, had seriously considered the whole question. Indeed they generally agreed with the majority of Representatives from Western Canada, in acknowledging the existence of the evil; they differed chiefly in the application of the cure. The specific on one side was to apply a strong local remedy. Such application had however been resisted as irritating in itself and dangerous in its tendency. The prescription on the other side was, primarily, to strengthen the body politic, and thus, with the aid of new stamina, to enable it to bear, without loss, the remedial action of constitutional treatment.

Recognizing a unity of aim, even though accompanied by contrariety of plan, it was surely an object worthy of a Ruler and a Statesman to take measures for reconciling the means with the end, to bring together earnest men, who, on public grounds, need not have been kept apart; and, by paths of conciliation and compromise, to direct ambition towards a higher policy, to guide the public mind to wider fields of thought, and thus to bring about, in fact as well as in name, “the peace, welfare, and good government” of the country.

His Excellency Viscount Monck represents, in his own person, historical auguries of success, for he bears the name, and is collaterally descended from the family of the first Duke of Albemarle, whose personal history is not only interwoven with the stirring times of the Commonwealth, but is directly identified with the happier ones of the Restoration. He also bears the title of the first Viscount of his name, one of a small, sagacious band, whose prescience and discretion enabled them to bring about a more intimate union between Great Britain and Ireland. If the past history of the family and race has any influence in directing its future destinies, then may we not look forward with confidence to the success of kindred services on a different field, and in another Hemisphere? The name of Monck is intimately associated with the restoration of Monarchy in England. May we not hope that it will in like manner, be associated with its perpetuation in America? It is identified historically with the legislative union of three Kingdoms in the Old World. May we not appropriate the double omen, and say that it shall also be identified with the Federal union of five Provinces in the New?


It is said that when the first Anglican Bishop arrived at Quebec he was courteously received by the Roman Catholic Bishop, who made him welcome by saluting both cheeks, and by expressing the pleasure he experienced in receiving his Episcopal brother; for, continued the communicative Prelate, “Your people want you very badly.”

The commentary of a keen observer at the end of the last century with respect to the Protestant population of Quebec, might have been made with equal propriety in the middle of the present century with respect to the Protestant population of Montreal; for certainly those who remember the state of the Episcopal Church at the period in question, will probably agree in thinking that the first Anglican Bishop did not arrive at all too soon, as his people wanted him “very badly.”

Until 1850 the See of Montreal was included within the Bishopric of Quebec, and consequently the larger population, and, commercially, the more important city, was ruled ecclesiastically, not only from a distant, but also from a less considerable place. Such arguments in the old world have little weight; but in America the element of numbers enters largely into considerations connected with government; and thus it happened that the greater did not accept gracefully the Episcopal oversight of the smaller city.

There were moreover reasons why the presence of a Bishop, resident at Montreal, was especially to be desired. The time was one of peculiar excitement. The restlessness of thought, the notes of controversy, the cry of alarm which at that time distracted the Church in England had been borne across the Atlantic to the discomfort of the Church in Canada. Good people, with more feeling than reason, and whose knowledge was scarcely equal to their zeal, appeared to think that the peace of the Church here would be promoted by an effort to naturalize the “cries” that were disturbing the Church at home, and thus it happened that the Protestants of Montreal found themselves whirled about in a flurry of crude phrases, and were, so to speak, suddenly called upon to elect their controversial colors, for in their alarmed minds the time had passed for sailing under the protection of the old fashioned neutral flag. The pulpit, too, being found inadequate to the duty of quieting alarm, controversy silently crept from the cloisters to the press, and then the difficulty was found to be almost as great to hush “a cry” that had sprung from no adequate cause, as it was to discover the cause of the cry. The Missionary work and the Missionary Church of Canada were thus hindered and disturbed by questions that most people asked, and few people could answer. Men’s minds were misty as well as heated; they understood neither what they said nor whereof they affirmed: but since it was easier to determine colors than to unravel controversy, ecclesiastical vestments became the badges, so to speak, of the competitive parties; and matters of doctrine and Church government seemed to be determined by the consideration whether the clergyman preached in a surplice or a gown.

Perhaps we ought to apologize for recalling such trivial reasons for such grave discords; but since the consequence of strife is not unfrequently in an inverse ratio to the cause of strife, it may tend to make us tolerant towards weakness if we will only remember the weaknesses of which we were intolerant.

Quiet Churchmen were therefore very thankful when it became known that the Rev. Francis Fulford, D.D., was, by Her Majesty, nominated to the newly erected See of Montreal. The question was very probably asked, and who is Dr. Fulford? and it is equally probable that a part of the answer was sought for and obtained in the volume now before us, namely, “Burke’s Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain.” The family record, we may add, though very interesting, is too long for insertion here; we shall, therefore, only make use of some of the facts. We learn, then, that His Lordship is descended from one of those ancient county families which are the especial pride of the people of the old country. Although the rank of such families is not noble, it is at all events of more ancient dignity, for it belongs to the earlier degree of “gentleman.” We learn further, not only from the book in question, but from other sources of information, that the family is of Saxon origin, and held “Folefort,” as it is written in Domesday Book, from which place the name is derived. Here it was seated in the time of Richard the First, and it has continued in possession of the same name and place, now written “Fulford,” by uninterrupted descent for more than six hundred years. The family is one of the old martial families of England, whose members were ever ready to enforce their opinions with their swords. Thus we learn that many Knights of the name distinguished themselves in the Holy Land, and during the “Wars of the Roses,” as well as for the King against Cromwell. Gallantry, too, seems to have been as conspicuous as courage; for “Prince,”[1] in speaking of Sir Baldwin de Fulford, quaintly observes that “he was a great soldier, and a traveller of so undaunted a resolution that for the honor and liberty of a royal lady in a castle besieged by the infidels, he fought a combat with a Saracen for bulk and bigness an unequal match,—(as the representation of him cut in the wainscot in Fulford Hall doth plainly show),—whom yet he vanquished, and rescued the lady.” The chronicle does not inform us in what language the gallant Knight and royal lady expressed their mutual obligations; and the wainscot of Great Fulford, as well as the Portrait Gallery, is silent on the character of the guerdon that the rescued captive bestowed on her deliverer. Such an adventure doubtless should have ended happily; that it did so, we must, with all who relish romance, be permitted to hope.

Author of “The Worthies of Devon.”

There is, too, another bit of family adventure mixed up with a curious passage in English history. Sir Thomas Fulford, it is recorded, was one of the Knights who went up with the Earl of Devon, and relieved Exeter when besieged by Perkin Warbeck in 1497. We may add, that the family mansion, which is one of the oldest in the West of England, was garrisoned for King Charles the First, and was taken by a part of Fairfax’s army in 1645.

Passing over much that is interesting in the earlier passages of his family history, to the subject of our sketch, we learn that the Most Reverend Francis Fulford is second son of the late Baldwin Fulford, Esquire, of Great Fulford, in the County of Devon; that he was born at Sidmouth on the 3rd of June, 1803, and having received his earlier education at Tiverton, he was, in 1821, admitted to Exeter College, Oxford, of which College he was, in 1824, elected a Fellow. Having obtained his B.A. degree, Mr. Fulford was ordained Deacon at Norwich in 1826, and Priest by Bishop Carey in the Cathedral of Exeter on the 22nd of June, 1828. After holding successive curacies in two Parishes, he was instituted to the Rectory of Trowbridge, of which the Duke of Rutland was the patron. Having taken his M.A. degree, he was, in 1838, appointed Chaplain to Her Royal Highness the late Duchess of Gloucester. In 1841, on resigning the Rectory of Trowbridge, he was instituted to the Rectory of Croydon, in Cambridgeshire, which he held until 1845, when, on the nomination of Earl Howe, he was licensed by the late Bishop of London as Minister of Curzon Chapel, Mayfair. This appointment he held until St. James’ day, 1850, when he was consecrated in Westminster Abbey as first Bishop of the Diocese of Montreal, the honorary degree of D.D. having previously been conferred on him by the University of Oxford. He received his Patent from the Queen as Metropolitan in 1860.

To go back in point of time, we may add that, in 1830, Mr. Fulford married Mary, eldest daughter of the late Andrew Berkley Drummond, Esquire, of Cadland, Hants, and the Lady Mary, his wife, who was daughter of John, second Earl of Egmont, and sister of the Right Honorable Spencer Perceval, who, while holding the office of First Lord of the Treasury and being at the time Prime Minister of England, was murdered by Bellingham in the lobby of the House of Commons.

Not only was Mr. Fulford a hard working Parish priest, but he did good service in the literary forces of the Church. When the “Colonial Church Chronicle” was first established, he was selected as its trusted editor. Whilst Rector of the populous manufacturing town of Trowbridge, he found time to publish two volumes of Sermons, as well as a short Treatise on “the Progress of the Reformation.”

The reflection will probably occur to many that the varied nature of his earlier clerical duties must have been of great service to the Bishop in his later and more exalted position. His first curacy, for instance, at Holne, in Dartmoor, in some respects resembled the backwoods missions of Canada. Fawley, his second curacy, like some of the older livings in this Province, was situate in a rich and picturesque agricultural county. His institution as Rector of Trowbridge, placed him in the midst of a large manufacturing population, where much prejudice had to be met, and many forms of dissent to be dealt with. Curzon Chapel, Mayfair, seated in the aristocratic suburbs of the metropolis, would naturally attract a highly educated congregation. No doubt the experiences acquired from observing different classes of society, and from working in different fields of labor, have been of great service to the Bishop in later life. Nor was his earlier work unmarked or unrecognized by the people during the period of its progress. Evidences of popular affection and esteem are at hand to attest, that however versatile and discursive his knowledge and however varied the Bishop’s duties may have been, there was one kind of duty which attracted equally different interests and different classes, and which gained from all a general expression of good will. Thus it was that the manufacturers and artizans of Trowbridge, and the nobility and gentry of Mayfair, moved by kindred sentiments, met on common ground, when they sought by imperishable gifts to show their own gratitude, as well as their opinion of the person on whom those gifts were to be conferred. The former, by way of remembrance, and as a mark of their regard, presented a tea service of silver; and the latter, an antique grace cup of the like precious substance, accompanied with three hundred and sixty sovereigns.

The Arab proverb “Speech is silver, but silence is gold,” is, we venture to think, not unknown to His Lordship. His passages of silence, on his arrival in Canada, were more expressive and more eloquent than many passages of another’s speech, for they rebuked the garrulous propensity of some to indulge in disputations more conducive to human vanity, than to spiritual progress. Doubtless, as the wise man wrote, “There is a time for silence,” and few men better than the Bishop understand when to determine that time.

Thoughtful persons are generally of opinion that by temperament, education and experience, the Bishop is eminently qualified to discharge the judicial, as well as the ecclesiastical, duties of his office; for, besides a clear, he possesses a calm mind, and yet his serene thought is manifestly accompanied with active and exact powers of observation. He remembers accurately, and applies aptly what he remembers. With strong powers of perception, he acquires naturally great insight into character. His opinions are, we think, never rashly formed, and consequently they are rarely changed. Having seen much of “all sorts and conditions of men,” having mixed much with various phases of social life, he is the better able to turn his acquired experience to account, and thus his knowledge of the world enables him to rule with wisdom and patience the Church in the world.

Regarding the influence of the Church as of higher importance to the happiness of the human race than any question of mere temporal government, the Bishop has been extremely reticent in expressing opinions on contemporary politics. Indeed His Lordship is much more an ecclesiastic than a politician; and we should therefore be inclined to think, that had he been present on a recent occasion in the ancient University City of Oxford, when Lord R. Cecil, and afterwards the Right Honorable B. D’Israeli sought to establish for their party a kind of special political property in the Church, no cheer of approval would have escaped his lips; but that, on the contrary, a righteous protest against such assumptions would promptly have occupied his thoughts. We write in ignorance, as we are not aware that His Lordship is allied, politically, with any party, either in England or Canada.

If, however, the Bishop cannot be identified with any political party in the State, neither do we think he can be charged with acting as a party man in his administration of his Diocese. Doubtless he has not lived in stirring times without being influenced by the opinions which have stirred those times, nor has he affected to conceal the inclination which his mind has received from such opinions. Still there is one subject to which with an earnest Prelate all opinion must be subservient, and that is the extension, through the medium of accredited channels, of the faith, worship, and practice of the Church. This object the Bishop has without doubt kept steadily in view, and he has carried it out, too, with a large-hearted charity beyond all praise.

The Diocese of Montreal includes within the ranks of the resident clergy, representatives of every school of clerical thought. To use conventional phrases, there are probably no “higher,” and there are certainly no “lower” Churchmen to be found in any portion of the Province with which His Lordship is connected, than could be named in his own particular Diocese; and yet, it is doubtful whether in any other there exists an equal amount of clerical harmony, or more cordial co-operation for Christian work. Those who remember what the Diocese was in 1850, and know what it is in 1865, will not only “thank God and take courage,” but will, with feelings akin to human pride, rejoice at the flexible qualities of the Anglican Church, whose Christian fellowship, like the net of old, may, without breaking, include “every sort.” He who sanctified their calling, and made poor fisher folk his friends, shall some day, but not yet, separate the “bad” from the “good.”

We cannot in this place refer to the Church work which has been accomplished under the Bishop’s rule. Such information must be sought for elsewhere than in these pages. It may, however, be interesting to the class which is inclined to determine all progress, whether secular, or sacred, by a money standard, to learn, that the amount raised within the Diocese for Church uses, was, in 1855, less than $35,000, and in 1865, more than $80,000.

The Bishop, without seeking popularity, is exceedingly popular. Personal character must and does tell at all times, and with all classes; and it is especially valuable in a mixed community, whose interests and feelings, whose enmities and prejudices, seem always to be mapped out in sharp and angular lines. Under such circumstances it is something to be thankful for, that the chief man in a place is in repute, fair, just, honest, and of “good report;” that his character is without warp, his transactions without stain, and that straightforwardness of conduct is written in every passage of his life. Such an one is likely to receive the esteem and respect of all, from the working-men who love him for his sympathy with working-men, to the most conscientious opponent of his rule, or separatist from his Church. For though the Bishop can not, and may not, on subjects of religion and orders and worship, associate himself with those who ecclesiastically are separated or have separated themselves from the doctrine and fellowship of his Church,—and being men of principle, such persons would but lightly esteem him, if he were to do so,—still, in matters of benevolence, of philanthropy, and of science, in fact on all common ground, on all neutral ground, on all public ground, he may and does co-operate cordially with those among whom his lot has been cast. Before his arrival in Canada, the Bishop had, doubtless, very thoughtfully considered the moral and social chart of his Diocese; and the result of such study very probably found expression in his Lordship’s answer to the congratulatory address which was presented to him on his arrival at Montreal, in which he said “that while we are bound to seek to provide for the wants of our own people, and I must ever remember my duty to the Church of which I have been appointed a chief pastor and overseer, yet still I hope to cultivate a spirit of charity towards all around me.”

How admirably the Bishop has succeeded in carrying out the principles thus wisely enunciated, is known to all. Therefore it happens that while the members of the Anglican Church are proud of their Bishop, so do Christian people generally cherish towards the Metropolitan feelings, if not of pride, at least of unalloyed respect and admiration.


“Who is he?” Such was the enquiry made of the writer by the witty and accomplished correspondent of the London “Daily Telegraph,” on the occasion of the Ball given by the Canadian Government in October, 1864, to the Delegates from the Maritime Provinces, as the Honorable John A. Macdonald entered the well lighted, but modest apartments which are now used by the Parliament of Canada; “how like D’Israeli,” continued the keen observer; and adjusting his spectacles more exactly to the bridge of his cogitative nose, the critic continued, “and with a strong dash of Milner Gibson, too.” We conversed for a while; Mr. Macdonald passed and repassed, with the quick, gliding, jaunty, careless step so peculiarly his own, his head, meanwhile, moving from side to side with the kind of bird-like celerity that expresses activity of thought, and quickness of perception. “Remarkable man, I should think,” continued Mr. George Augustus Sala, “one would enquire his name anywhere.”

The impression of a stranger agrees with the testimony of friends and the admission of opponents. Mr. Macdonald, apart from his personal resemblance to distinguished statesmen, is a remarkable man, and would perhaps be more so were the field of political exertion larger than that which is included in the Province and Government of Canada.

Having had the advantage of a liberal education, Mr. Macdonald was articled to a lawyer of repute, and large practice at Kingston, and in the course of time he was admitted to the Bar of Upper Canada, becoming thereby a member of the learned Society of Osgoode Hall. Shortly afterwards an opportunity offered, of which Mr. Macdonald proudly availed himself, to impress on the Bench, the Bar, and also on the inhabitants of the city in which he resided, that his legal attainments were of the highest promise, including, we may observe, the safe qualities that lodge in the Chambers of Counsel, as well as the showy ones that shine in Courts of Justice. Thus it chanced that quiet men who rule Corporations, control Banks, make investments, accept mortgages and accumulate money, very early discovered in the accomplished young advocate, the particular lawyer to whose character, honor, and judgment they were willing to confide grave trusts and important issues. Consequently Mr. Macdonald was named Solicitor to the Commercial Bank; and shortly afterwards he received the like appointment from the newly established Trust and Loan Company of Upper Canada.

To lead the Bar of his Circuit, and save money for his clients, or make it for himself, was not, however, the sole end and object of Mr. Macdonald’s ambition. He saw, beyond and above such attractions, allurements more ennobling than the greed of gain, more irresistible than the work which was bounded only by the limits of his county. He saw in his path the prize of power. He saw, too, that public confidence had already prepared for him a place in Parliament, where influence could be exerted, and good could be done.

Thus the double attraction, power and fame, which most men are obliged to court, were wooing him. In England it is the House of Commons. In Canada it is the Commons House of Assembly. The honor may be, and doubtless is, different in degree, but the fascination is alike in either country. Few who come within its influence can resist the spell: it bewilders a humble man, it appropriates a gifted one. No vulgar vice is more enslaving than the grand passion for power. Thus it was that the point in Mr. Macdonald’s career was reached, at which professional success generated, so to speak, political aspirations; when the paid services of the gifted advocate were to give place to the unpurchasable services of the ardent Statesman. The die was cast, popular favor was accepted, private ease was lost; for the tumultuous shouts which followed his successful election for Kingston, could they have been reduced to language, and interpreted aright, would have fallen upon his ear as a knell to rest, and peace and home,—a knell, musical it may be with the memories of quiet times, whose echoes would linger in days to come, like the recollections of childhood, about the troubled pathway of his laborious life.

Mr. Macdonald, who has now for twenty-one years sat for Kingston, and who, also, for one reason and another, has been successfully returned no less than eleven times, very early in life cast his lot into the Conservative party; and though of more advanced views on some points than the elder scholars of that school, he nevertheless sympathised cordially with them, and worked cordially for them, on all the important questions that agitated the Province. But, while he was generally loyal to the old traditions of his party, men began very early to conjecture that those old traditions would speedily be taken out of ordinary, refurbished, made serviceable and turned to account by this representative of a younger school of Statesmen.

As became a new member who would win his way successfully to the ear of the House, Mr. Macdonald continued for some time after his entrance into Parliament most studiously silent. He was content to listen, and to learn; for in truth in the person of the then Attorney General, the present Chief Justice of Upper Canada, there was an expert “Master of Fence, and no inapt teacher of the science of government.” With strong personal sympathies, the Honorable Mr. Draper and Mr. Macdonald found themselves cordially allied with a party whose principles they respected, and whose policy in the main it was their desire to uphold. The party in question however, was not only conservative in principle, it was almost inimical to progress in practice. It was to a certain extent a party of memory and prejudice. It treasured the recollections of the past, its sacrifices and heroism, its enmities and aversions, with fanatical affection. It disliked a Reformer from instinct, and a Frenchman from tradition; and finally, it is scarcely an exaggeration to say, it grew cool in its support of Mr. Draper, because he sought to conciliate the former and propitiate the latter.

But though Mr. Draper’s effort was not marked with immediate success, still such inclination had been given to political thought as would ere long influence public policy. The earnest conversations of such astute politicians as Mr. Draper and the Hon. Mr. Caron, had they not resolved themselves into State papers, would undoubtedly have left behind them some abiding impressions—impressions which, passing by inheritance to Mr. Macdonald, would necessarily be turned to useful purposes.

It was evident that public affairs could not be satisfactorily conducted without the co-operation of the representatives in Parliament of French origin; and it therefore became the especial task of Mr. Macdonald to weld the conservatism of the two sections of Canada into a condition of solidity and strength. Nor can it be denied that, beneath the heated crust of party, there did exist, on certain great subjects, cognate opinions—opinions from which political affinities take their rise, and towards which, as by a natural law, they commonly gravitate. In examining such opinions, Mr. Macdonald would probably observe that the comparatively fixed conservatism of his party in Upper Canada was balanced by the absolutely fixed conservatism of the French party in Lower Canada. That, for example, on the highest subjects through which thought is influenced and men are moved, namely, the subject of religion, and, as germain to it, the sacredness of church property, the principles of the two parties were not in antagonism. The Anglican clergy, together with a large proportion of the laity of that church, asserted, equally with the Clergy and laity of the Roman Communion, the perpetual sanctity of property once set apart to the purposes of religion. Such opinions, with respect to church property, are apt to influence opinion generally with respect to all property; and it may, therefore, be conjectured that Mr. Macdonald’s clear mind very early discerned, in a fact so patent, the basis of that political alliance which has since taken place, and which, primarily, may have had its root in the sympathetic conservatism which is based on the sanctity of the rights of property.

The policy, too, of the Reformers rather favored than thwarted Mr. Macdonald’s proceedings. When in alliance with the party of Lower Canada, which was led by Sir Louis Lafontaine, the liberals of the Western Province very earnestly and eloquently asserted the abstract right of the state to deal with, and, if necessary, alienate, the property of the church; and, by way of showing their sincerity, they succeeded in obtaining Legislative authority to divide the estate of the Anglican, and were not over reticent of their menaces with respect to the possessions of the Roman Catholic Church. Thus it happened that, partly from a divergence in the policy of two political sections, which equally called themselves Reformers, and partly from the prescience and ability of Mr. Macdonald, separations were silently taking place, and adhesions were silently being promoted, which, ere long, would bring about new alliances, and a great change in the governing party of the Province.

That the policy commenced by Mr. Draper and continued by Mr. Macdonald was in advance of the time, is sufficiently probable. The recollections of 1837-38, inseparably associated as they were with the antagonistic names of “Tory” on one side, and “Reformer” on the other, were too vivid in the minds of the actors to make cordial approach then possible. Besides too, and growing out of the events of those troublous times, there remained an uncomfortable question whose settlement was imperatively requisite before hostilities could be permanently laid aside. The complaints of losses sustained and of compensation withheld were repeated again and again, and each time more loudly than the former. Heated, menacing discussions accompanied the complaints, until it seemed to be equally dangerous to grant as to deny the redress prayed for. The ministry of the day, doubtless moved by the conviction of their duty, determined by every means known to the constitution to bring the subject to peremptory and final settlement. They did so, and the Rebellion Losses Bill became law.

It might afford matter for interesting speculation to observe the political consequences that rapidly followed the enactment of this act. The Reformers supported it with intolerant anger. The Conservatives opposed it with vehement rage. Feeling and policy, present rancour, and former hate, were uppermost in the minds of the disputants. Men were too excited to listen to reason, to contemporary information, or historical analogy. All with equal solemnity asseverated “Justice.” Nevertheless, in its political consequences the question may be fairly asked, whether any measure, more than this particular act, contributed to bring about the change of alliances that has since taken place? It is very probable that neither party saw the contingent consequence of its own policy. Had they done so, perhaps haste on one side, and resistance on the other, would have been very considerably modified.

Mr. Macdonald was a member of the Executive Council from the month of May, 1847, to the month of March of the following year. At the latter period he crossed the House, and till the 11th of September, 1854, became the actual, if not the nominal, leader of “Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition.” On the last mentioned day the coalition took place which Mr. Draper imagined, which Mr. Macdonald promoted, and which Mr. Hincks acquiesced in,—a coalition that placed the chief of the Conservative party of Upper Canada at the same Council table with Sir E. P. Taché and Mr. Cartier, the representatives of the like party in Lower Canada,—a combination it may be supposed based on sympathetic principles, as it has since then been fostered and preserved by the most intimate friendships. With the exception of two intervals, the first of a few days, and the second of less than two years, Mr. Macdonald has remained in power from that time till now.

What has been accomplished during the period our space will not permit us to epitomize. Questions vexed with the discussions of half a century have been peacefully set at rest. Internal improvements which could scarcely have been hoped for for fifty years, have taken place in one decade. It is true indeed that some of those questions have been disposed of by consent of parties, and on a basis that Mr. Macdonald would not have chosen; and it is also true that works of great public utility have been hurried forward at a somewhat oppressive cost, for which, however, Mr. Macdonald can scarcely be held answerable. Still the country has got rid of grievances that occasioned much strife, and has acquired possessions that confer many advantages; the double result being contemporaneous with the period during which Mr. Macdonald has represented Upper Canada in the Government.

There is one question, however, from its connection with a somewhat exceptional transaction, that should receive a passing notice. After years of idle discussion, after blemishing the journals with resolutions and divisions more conspicuously playful than severely proper, Parliament became weary, and apparently ashamed of its own proceedings; and therefore, by humble address to the Queen, besought Her Majesty to “select some one place for the permanent seat of Government for Canada,” supplementing their prayer with a pledge to grant the requisite supplies. Her Majesty was pleased to accept the ungracious task, and, at the next session, communicated to Parliament that she had fixed the capital at Ottawa.

Having an unsettled previous history, provoking debates that were only too pitiful, followed by divisions that were wholly derisive, it might have been conjectured that Parliament was weary of the theme, and would gladly have avoided any renewal of an idle discussion. Not so, however, thought the gentlemen who moved and seconded an address to Her Majesty to reconsider her decision and substitute “Montreal,” for “Ottawa.” They probably forget that since the members last trifled, laughed, and divided, the question had assumed Imperial relationships and gathered about it Royal solemnities and sanctions.

Members however acted as of old, utterly regardless of what Parliament had done, and only careful of what their constituents might think. Thus it chanced that on the vote being recorded, the Macdonald-Cartier administration found itself in a minority of fourteen, and consequently resigned. That the vote was inconsiderately given may be fairly assumed; for five days afterwards, as soon as the rules of Parliament permitted, and it may be added, in singular disregard of the usual amenities observed in party warfare, many of the members voted non-confidence in the new administration which had resulted from their vote, and, by a parity of reasoning, non-confidence in the vote itself; since the latter proceeding included a return to power of the administration which that vote had displaced.

The transactions of those few days must, it is feared, continue to be a blot on our Parliamentary history. We would gladly, if we might, lose the page whereon the unseemly record is written. The opposition, if they remembered their duties, forgot their responsibilities, and agreed to a vote that will scarcely bear examination. The ministry, defeated by a vote that was hardly fair, retaliated by a proceeding one does not care to investigate. In the game of Chess, the crooked advance of the black knight may perhaps, without detriment, be answered by the crooked advance of the white one; but such oblique movements in morals or politics may not be made with impunity. Irregular warfare provokes irregular warfare, and the use of unfair weapons leads to the abuse of fair ones. The case under review illustrates the point. The Ministers who, by a “surprise vote,” were improperly unseated, re-seated themselves by a succession of very questionable surprises. It is true indeed that on an appeal to the judges, the Province learned that the pantomine, as it appeared on the columns of the Canada Gazette, was not contrary to law; but notwithstanding the decision of the courts, the public conscience was not appeased; and even at the present day, public men take pains to disavow all connection with what has been popularly stigmatized by two words of opprobrium, which, however, shall not be repeated in this place.

Passing from this transaction, we continue to find Mr. Macdonald—with an interruption of twenty-two months only—the head and representative of the Western Section of the Cabinet. On the resignation of the Sandfield Macdonald-Dorion Government, when Sir E. P. Taché undertook the duty of forming an administration, the subject of our sketch very earnestly sought, not for office or emolument, but as a reward of service to be indulged with the poetical post of honor; namely, the private station, and the privilege of rest. He sought in vain. Sir Etienne knew too well the qualities of his friend, to entrust to another standard-bearer the colors, which for his party Mr. Macdonald had always borne so bravely. The country again needed his services, personal sacrifices were again required, and personal considerations were consequently again cast aside. His old allies and adherents once more beckoned him to the front; and forgetful of political antipathies, a glow of satisfaction may well have pervaded the Assembly (for all are proud of him), as they saw Mr. Macdonald once more take his familiar place as leader of the House.

The truth is, Mr. Macdonald possesses a combination of qualities that are rarely met with in the same person. He is a student and a man of the world. With a memory supremely retentive, he is a ravenous devourer of books. With genial tastes, and warm sympathies for his kind, he possesses a keen relish for social enjoyments. A wit and a satirist in spite of himself, he gives the rein to the former, to the admiration of his friends, and puts a curb on the latter, lest, in answering, he should wound his opponents. Endowed with a more than ordinary share of manly courage, he seems also to possess a corresponding amount of human tenderness. Alike generous in thought and in action, he is considerate to all; conscious of imperfection, he is indulgent towards prejudice, patient towards ignorance, and tolerant towards infirmity. Thus his public career, if it have any blemishes, has no stain of cruelty.

As a speaker, Mr. Macdonald is very effective. It is true, oratory, as an art, has not apparently been studied by him. The knack of rolling words, and rounding periods, receives, in his practice, little respect. He appears only to think of the matter of his speech and not of the manner of speaking. Evidently there are no mists in his mind; he sees clearly, and expresses as clearly as he sees. Like Mr. Draper, as we remember him, Mr. Macdonald is a logical speaker; but, unlike Mr. Draper, the aim of his speech is not apparently sacrificed to the form. The manner of the former was cold, argumentative, and persuasive. Mr. Macdonald, on the contrary, is earnest, impassioned, and convincing. The ordinary style of Mr. Hincks is the occasional style of Mr. Macdonald, for sometimes he apparently declines to argue, and contents himself with vehement assertion.

On great occasions, when the subject enables him to rise above the level of local politics, it is refreshing to listen as he foreshadows it may be on the future destiny of this grand Province, the future offices of the outlying dependencies of the Empire; when no class of Statesmen shall speak of them as sources of national weakness, but as elements of national strength; when they shall take their places in the great British Commonwealth, and become at once the most formidable and the most important outworks of British power. At such times, and on such themes, Mr. Macdonald’s unstudied oratory teems with eloquence, gleams with daring, and is bright with hope. Then, it is, one may observe the physical effects of intellectual influences in the hush and stillness of a thousand voices ere they burst the bars of conventional imprisonment, and break into loud and rapturous applause. Moreover, then, may be noted the pride which a great party cherishes towards its chieftain; for, let the division result as it may, the hearts and minds of that party carry away the solace of a triumph.

In our Legislature we possess no higher type of popular statesmanship than is to be found in the subject of our sketch. Let it be our duty, therefore, as it is our interest, to cherish and to make much of our possessions.

That every fibre of our intellectual and moral nature should be of equal strength would be as unreasonable to expect as that every feature of our face should be of equal regularity. All men have foibles; and if we have the disposition to pry narrowly, our curiosity will probably be rewarded by the discovery that all characters have flaws. That the subject of our sketch is an exception to a universal law, no one pretends to affirm. We should, however, do violence to our own opinions of fair criticism were we to judge a public man from any other than a public point of view. Let his public services be the standard by which his public worth shall be determined. Those who cherish contrary opinions may listen with advantage to the wise words of the late Sir James Graham, who, in addressing the electors of Carlisle, said: “I tell you, not for myself, but for public men, and in the interests of the public, do not pry too closely into the flaws of the character of public men; do not hunt too closely into every particular of their conduct, but look to the general tenor of their lives. Try them by this test;—Has avarice or ambition misled them from the path of public duty? Have they gained honors or advantages for themselves at the cost of the public? Try them by that test!”

When the time shall have arrived for Mr. Macdonald to retire from the scene, and, in the words of Burke, “To shut the book,” then, perhaps, the people of this Province, irrespective of party, will more fully comprehend how much their happiness and peace are to be ascribed to his conservative wisdom; how much their union and advancement are due to, what may read like paradox, his enlightened principles of conservative progress.


The Honorable Mr. Tilley was no stranger to Canada or to Canadians when, as the Prime Minister of New Brunswick, he arrived at Quebec, and took his place at the Conference held in that city in the month of October, 1864. Neither were the duties in which he found himself engaged new to him. His mind had already been disciplined in the school of incipient diplomacy. He had officially and frequently discussed, with Ministers of the different Provinces, subjects of great national importance. Questions, for instance, of inter-colonial free trade, of an assimilated currency, and of uninterrupted intercourse between the separated communities, had received from him especial attention, and their consideration had probably enabled him to see with greater clearness the political advantages of a more intimate union of those communities. Mr. Tilley had moreover visited England, with Representatives from Canada and Nova Scotia, to arrange, and if possible perfect, the grand project of connecting the Provinces by means of an Intercolonial Railway. That his part in this important negociation was alike sagacious and beneficial we have a right to assume, as it received the support of the Imperial authorities, the approval of his own Government, and was moreover satisfactory to the inhabitants of New Brunswick.

Mr. Tilley, who is indebted to his character and genius for his position, was born in New Brunswick, and comes of a hardy, vigorous, self-reliant race. A native of Queen’s County, he was educated at Gagetown, and afterwards moved to the city of St. John. Here he occupied himself with the pursuits of commerce, until the more alluring attraction of politics threw around him its fascinating spell. Then it was he forsook the quiet path of profitable industry, for one more laborious and less remunerative. In the year 1850 Mr. Tilley was one of the two members elected for the city of St. John. In a few months afterwards, for reasons with which we are unacquainted, he resigned his seat, and withdrew into privacy. But he was not permitted to continue in retirement. At the general election in 1854 he was again returned for St. John; and shortly afterwards, on his becoming a member of the Government by accepting the office of Provincial Secretary, he was for the third time re-elected, and then without opposition.

Mr. Tilley is a liberal, and, we may add, a political and social Reformer of a somewhat advanced school. One of his early measures, as a member of the Government, was to introduce a Bill to extend the franchise and to secure vote by ballot. As a social reformer and Temperance advocate, he belongs to the class of earnest, enthusiastic men who, dazzled by the glare of their own pure intentions, insist on pushing their theories to what they regard their legitimate practical consequences. Thus, though they should fail to make all men agree in their opinion, they would nevertheless oblige them to conform to their example.

We can scarcely imagine a better illustration of the force of individual character, and the weight of personal opinion, than that which is afforded by the particular transaction to which we are about to allude. In the session of 1855, Mr. Tilley, when a member of the Government, introduced in the House of Assembly a Bill intituled “An Act to prevent the importation, manufacture, and traffic in intoxicating liquors.” The Bill itself was as stringent in its provisions as the title represented it to be; but though stringent, irritating, and semi-revolutionary, it was nevertheless passed by the Legislature, with sufficient majorities to enable it for a few months to assume the air, and enjoy the dignity of an Act of Parliament. Intrusive measures interfering with and limiting our liberty of diet, like acts interfering with and restricting our liberty of conscience, are not likely to receive much countenance from public opinion. Thoughtful men will for the most part shrink alike from social and religious meddling; for the spirit of the age is opposed to acts of uniformity, no matter whether the subjects be dress, diet, or divinity. A Government, morever, no matter what its party color may be, which shall unfortunately find itself clothed with such authority, had, we think, better imitate the wisdom of the Legislature of New Brunswick, and summarily get rid of the unenviable trust by repealing the Act which conferred it. Still it must not be forgotten, that, though the means were vicious and tyrannical, the end aimed at was pure and philanthropic. It is complimentary to the ardor and enthusiasm of Mr. Tilley’s advocacy that it seemed to captivate and enthrall the minds of the Assembly, causing its Members to become temporarily oblivious to the inevitable issue of a scheme of coercion. Doubtless too, there was about his argument what is apparent in his act, namely, the fascination of logical attraction.

Mr. Tilley was no advocate of half, inconsequential measures. His purpose was, not only to affix the seal of Parliamentary prohibition on what he believed to be wrong, but, by legal pains and penalties, to prevent what he prohibited. He succeeded: a law was enacted, which, though scarcely creditable to the gravity and wisdom of the Legislature, was unquestionably flattering to the genius and eloquence of its author. The transaction, as a measure of public policy, must, we think, be placed among the mistakes of statesmanship; but, at the same time, it may fairly be accepted as an illustration of the force and strength of personal character and influence.

The new law, as we have hinted, did not commend itself to the public conscience. It was not only objected to, but resisted; the peace of the country was menaced: whereupon the Lieutenant Governor very properly determined that means should be adopted to restore the deranged balance of society, even though the operation included a dissolution of Parliament. Mr. Tilley and his colleagues resigned; and at the election which immediately followed, the former was obliged to submit to defeat. A special session was convened. The objectionable Liquor Law was repealed, by an almost unanimous vote; but on other questions, parties were so evenly divided, as to make all useful legislation impossible. A dissolution and a new election took place in the course of the following year, when Mr. Tilley was again returned for St. John; and shortly afterwards re-instated in his former office in the Government of the Province.

Mr. Tilley is said to possess considerable administrative talent, as well as great Parliamentary tact. His popular as well as personal qualities are equally attractive. He wins respect alike from supporters and opponents. He has a genuine relish for debate, and really enjoys a face-to-face encounter with an antagonist. He possesses a more than ordinary share of moral courage, and is especially apt and ready on questions of finance. If the Political Union shall be brought about,—for the hope and advocacy of which Mr. Tilley is at present excluded alike from office and from Parliament,—then it is probable his old constituency will renew its confidence, and restore the late member to the place which for the present he has lost. In the meanwhile, Mr. Tilley carries no pusillanimous heart. His faith in the future is not, we venture to think, dimmed, though it may be his hope is deferred. Like a cheerful traveller on life’s highway, he will still keep in the sunshine, and, if need be, “sing beside the hedge!” Nor will his consistent mind struggle unsustained by those strong sided champions, reason and conscience: for the wisdom of the Empire has approved what the sagacity of the Provinces projected.


The common point at which the varying lines of different lives meet and end, is significantly solemn to all. Men may perhaps be forgiven if they speak and feel uncertainly on the manner in which they would elect to approach that point. All, however, will agree in the opinion that there can scarcely be a fitter way for a good man to rest from life than when occupied with the duties to which that life has been devoted. Therefore it would appear especially seemly that one like the subject of our sketch, whose time, talents, and services were given to the State, should fall in harness, and die while discharging the work of the State.

The picture of his last day of life, resembling as it did so many previous days, may perhaps without much difficulty be traced anew, for time has not yet effaced either the freshness of the public sorrow, or the features of the personal loss.

Those who knew, or had seen, Sir Louis Lafontaine will easily recall him to their recollection. We can, as if the reality were of yesterday, see his commanding presence, as on the 26th of February, 1864, he sat in Chambers for the last time. We can note the well-remembered muscular figure; the imperturbable manner; the square Napoleonic face; the massive brow unruffled by a wrinkle; the silent bearing, offspring of thought and gloom—for, like “Great Cato,” Sir Louis was “for gravity renowned.” We can, as in a mirror, observe all this.

His brother Judges, however, who, on that occasion, if not for the moment associated with, were not far removed from their official chief, will see, and will doubtless remember more. They will recollect his appearance somewhat suddenly changed; an observation incoherently made, and heard with difficulty; a paper somewhat furtively felt for and scarcely reached. They will furthermore remember an anxious interval of unexplained premonitory silence, followed by the hopeless paralysis of that grand frame. They will recall his speechless suffering as they conveyed him home; his interval of sensibility on his arrival there; his anxious enquiry for Lady Lafontaine, his wife, and their only son, a child of eighteen months. Perhaps they will also remember the last effort of the expiring intellect, the last act of the closing life, for they were thoughts of love and acts of care. They will remember how fondly the dying Baronet kissed the unconscious heir of his title; how tenderly he restored him to the arms of his mother. They may remember, too, how rapidly clouds and darkness gathered around his mind, and then with what suddenness all intelligence fell into the folds of night. Like one over-wearied with work, or overcome by watching, Sir Louis Lafontaine sank into insensibility, and then into death.

His was not a long life, for he expired in his fifty-sixth year; nevertheless his name will live, for though, says the son of Sirach, “a good life hath but few days, a good name endureth for ever.”

The death of Sir Louis was universally regarded as a public loss. Some loved, many admired, and all respected him. Thus on the occasion of his solemn funeral at the great Roman Catholic Church at Montreal, where all classes of the community were represented in that Congregation of Mourners, though prayers ascended from many voices, and incense from many censers, they were, we believe, attuned only to one thought, fragrant only with one grief, thought of him, and grief for his loss, whose silent remains lay unconsciously on that luminous bier; deaf alike to anthem, chant, or hymn.

Much was written of the deceased Baronet, for admiration and regret found many channels of expression. Still nothing that we met with at the time, nothing that we have read since, touched us more than the following letter, and the incident it narrated. Little did we think as we put aside the “flower” which Mr. Ryan cast, like loving tribute, on a good man’s grave, that the time would arrive when we should, so to speak, gather it anew, wreathe it with our own thoughts, and bid it bloom afresh.



To the Editor of the Montreal Gazette.

Sir,—It must be the desire of every one who knew our late Chief Justice, Sir Louis Hypolite Lafontaine, either personally, or by reputation as a public man, to render homage, at this moment, to his singular worth. As one who knew much of him as a statesman, and not a little as a private gentleman, I have my desire to cast a flower upon his grave. Will you therefore, Sir, be pleased to gratify me by reproducing in your journal of to-morrow the following brief but beautiful eulogy of the character of Sir Louis, pronounced by the Hon. Robert Baldwin, at a meeting of the Reform Association of Toronto, in January, 1844. The extract, which I have long preserved, is taken from a report of the proceedings of the meeting, published in the Montreal “Times” of the 10th of January, 1844; and it is scarcely a month since, in speaking of it to the Hon. Mr. Chauveau, I remarked, that should I survive the Chief Justice, it would be my care to call the attention of some gentleman of the press to the noble tribute, so worthy both of these great and good men.

Mr. Baldwin said: “And that as to his learned friend (Mr. Lafontaine), he had found him so clear in his perception of right, so prompt in the assertion of it, and so stern in the condemnation of those arts of low and party intrigue to which little minds resort to conceal their barrenness, that he (Mr. Baldwin) declared it a comfort to have such a guide, a glory to have such a leader, and a source of the greatest satisfaction to have such a friend. And he would tell the people of Upper Canada that, in his opinion, they could not have a man as the leader of the United Reform party more attentive to their interests, more resolved on having the Administration, as respected that section of the Province, conducted in a manner satisfactory to them.”

I am, Mr. Editor, respectfully yours,

Matthew Ryan.

Montreal, February 27th, 1864.

Turning to the personal chronicle, we learn that the deceased Baronet was born at Boucherville, in 1807. In 1830 he was returned to Parliament as member for the populous County of Terrebonne, and in 1831 he married.

Unlike his matured character, his disposition in early life, it is said, was conspicuous for its activity and restless energy. Therefore he entered ardently into the political discussions of the period, and advocated with the fervor of youth what he believed to be the rights of his race. Whether at the time Mr. Lafontaine thoroughly agreed with Mr. Papineau, his reputed leader, it is not necessary in this place to enquire. Probably there was some divergence of opinion even at that early day, for Mr. Lafontaine was constitutionally but little inclined to follow any one’s lead. It has been stated, too, that he resisted Mr. Papineau’s arguments, and opposed his advice to the proceedings of his countrymen in 1837, when they were directed towards violence. His much quoted letter to Mr. Girouard, to which the Government at Quebec very naturally attached serious significance, was intended, it is said, rather to satirize than encourage the illegal movements which were then on foot, and which were unfortunately daily becoming more perilous and compromising. As however the letter in question was not likely to receive a playful interpretation from the Canadian authorities, Mr. Lafontaine very wisely took sanctuary abroad, and, with that firm faith in British justice which seems never to have failed him, he patiently awaited the issue of enquiry. The time and the result, as he expected, arrived, and then Mr. Lafontaine returned to Canada.

After the re-union of the Provinces, having failed, in 1841, to secure his election for Terrebonne, Mr. Lafontaine, through the good offices of the late Honorable Robert Baldwin, his fast political and personal friend, was returned as member for one of the Ridings of York.

In 1842, when Sir Charles Bagot was Governor General, Mr. Lafontaine was appointed Attorney General for Lower Canada; but in the year following, on a misunderstanding with Lord Metcalfe, he, with his colleagues, resigned. His party, which was stedfastly attached to their sagacious leader, crossing the house with him. Mr. Lafontaine continued in opposition till March, 1848, when having been charged by the Earl of Elgin to form a ministry, the Government, for the first time designated by a double name, and known popularly as the “Lafontaine-Baldwin” administration, was sworn into office. The administration as thus constituted, with certain subordinate changes, continued in power until October, 1851, when Mr. Lafontaine, with his friend Mr. Baldwin, retired alike from Parliament and from political life. The former devoted himself to his professional pursuits until 1853, when he accepted the appointment of Chief Justice of Lower Canada, rendered vacant by the death of Sir James Stuart. Shortly afterwards, Her Majesty was graciously pleased to confer on him the high honor of a Baronetcy.

As Chief Justice, and in addition to the onerous duties that attach to the office, Sir Louis Lafontaine presided at the sittings of the Seigniorial Tenure Court; but he declined the appointment subsequently offered to him of Member of the Commission to codify the laws of Lower Canada. The duties of his exalted office required all his attention; and he therefore seemed to regard with aversion, as if it were something to be avoided, any temptation to withdraw his thoughts from those duties.

In manner, Sir Louis was neither captivating nor conciliatory, like most men whose knowledge of Government was derived more from private study than from public observation, more from books than experience, he was disposed to be dogmatic and dangerously theoretical. He spoke seldom, and then not agreeably. His voice possessed no flexibility of tone, and the key to which it was attuned was harsh and guttural. Speech, it should be remembered, with him was not a vain possession to be used chiefly for the purposes of display, but a weapon of approved temper to be employed in actual service. In Parliament he rarely spoke unless, in the true sense, he had something to say; neither were his speeches unreasonably long. He possessed in a great degree the ability that most men covet and few attain to, and fewer still practice,—the ability to concentrate his thoughts, to reason closely, and to present his conclusions with force and directness, free alike from the films with which cloudy minds conceal their arguments and garrulous ones destroy their logic. Thus it chanced that Sir Louis always spoke to a listening audience, and was always listened to with attention.

The public judgment must, we think, for the present be reserved as to the particular place which Sir Louis Lafontaine is destined to fill in the history of Canadian worthies; whether, for instance, his name will shine more conspicuously on the roll of our Statesmen or on the list of our Judges. Doubtless he was a pure-minded as well as a high-minded man. All respect his unsullied name, his great ability and his stainless life. No taint clings to his memory, for none attached to his acts. Honest in his own transactions, he expected and required honesty in the transactions of those about him. He lived simply and without ostentation, and died comparatively poor. Without controversy, he was a good man. The enquiry is, in what respect was he a great one? Educated politically in an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust, amidst the strife and tumult of opposing races rather than of opposing principles, it is probable that Sir Louis Lafontaine’s mind had very early suffered contraction, and received a warp, for the wholesome recovery of which, time and observation, and calm thought were necessary. The period for reconsidering and revising our first impressions comes sooner or later to us all; and it may be for more than our own happiness that such season should arrive when reflection has acquired the mastery of passion, and impulse has been subdued by reason. A truly great mind can afford to be generous, and shrinks not from confessing its errors and mistakes.

When the occasion offered, Sir Louis did not hesitate to acknowledge the fallacy of his first impressions. His fear, for instance, that the re-union of the Provinces would imperil Canadian nationality, caused him at first to be the steadfast opponent of that measure. Later in life, when his connection with political affairs had determined, Sir Louis took the opportunity of publicly confessing the error of his earlier thought, by admitting that a result contrary to what he had expected had actually taken place.

Again, his cherished opinions, as we may suppose they were, as enunciated in the Ninety-two Resolutions of the House of Assembly of Lower Canada, must have undergone considerable modification ere he was content to accept, as a preferable substitute, Mr. Baldwin’s simple project of executive responsibility to the people.

Sir Louis was undoubtedly a man of iron will, as well as of great force of character. His immobility of disposition combined with his power of resistance is something to remember. Naturally brave, he never quailed at consequences, and rarely abandoned what he undertook to accomplish. He did what he conceived to be right, and he did it too at once, and for its own sake, and without regard to remote results. The adoption of this view may, we think, help us to interpret what seems otherwise not very clear.

Thus, Sir Louis Lafontaine’s idea, initiated, however, with more hesitancy than it has since been acted on, of ruling by a double ministry in the same Government, by a double majority in the same Legislature, though manifestly opposed to the common notion of administrative unity, possessed at all events the fascination as well as the semblance of fairness, and appeared moreover at the moment to meet, and as some thought to overcome, an obstinate difficulty. Nevertheless experience has, we think, demonstrated that one half of the idea, the double majority in Parliament, has been found unequal to the wear and tear of actual service, and that its merits, whatever they may have seemed, were theoretical and delusive. The other condition of the idea, namely, a double ministry in the same Government, will probably at some future time attract more attention than it appears as yet to have received. Based on a principle of sectionalism, it may be said to contain the germ of disunion, and to that extent must be regarded as antagonistic to the spirit, if not to the letter, of the Constitutional Act. Moreover the student of English history would detect, what our Provincial experience also confirms, namely, that the idea, regarded as a principle, and being reduced to practice, has encouraged members of the Legislature to take diminutive and, as we think, unstatesmanlike views of their duties and obligations. They speak of themselves, for example, as the delegates of localities only, with merely sectional responsibilities, instead of members of one great deliberative body, component parts of the estate of Parliament, with common duties and common trusts. It may therefore be regarded as a fair subject for speculation, whether the policy of dwarfing the Government and the country by dividing them, has not been followed by evils which, though not apparent at the time, are the natural results of the incipient sectionalism which that policy inaugurated.

Ardently attached to the people and traditions of his race, Sir Louis was, nevertheless, a minister for the whole Province. The measures he advocated were, in his opinion, for the benefit of all. He possessed the courage and principle to do what he believed to be right irrespective of results; and thus, his conscience being satisfied, he looked to the issue with serenity and calm.

Like Mr. Baldwin, Sir Louis Lafontaine became latterly very conservative in his opinions. In his earlier life he saw, or thought he saw, that right was overborne by wrong. He devoted himself to the adjustment of the balance. Success contented him. The visionary views of Government which had dazzled his youth, had probably been rebuked by his later experience, and destroyed by the sublime follies which in 1848 had held their revel in Europe. Utopia is still an imaginary land. The rule of virtue, alas! is not yet. We must blend it with force, or it will prove contemptible. Such a union should be fruitful in wisdom, the wisdom which not only “exalteth the children of men,” but which is the most precious possession for the rulers of men.

Sir Louis Lafontaine was twice married. Firstly, to Adèle, daughter of A. Berthelot, Esq., of Quebec, by whom however he had no issue. Secondly, to Jane, daughter of Charles Morrison, Esq., of Berthier, by whom he had issue, two sons, the present Baronet, and a second, who was born several weeks after the decease of his father.

How tenderly that young child whom he had seen was loved, it were idle to enquire; equally idle were it to attempt to gauge the human longings that grew in the heart and mind of that proud father. We may, it is true, conjecture in what kind tones of gentleness that grave man laid his learning aside, and humbled his speech to the capacity of his child; with what ungrudging patience he watched for the dawn, and waited for the growth of thought, and broken words. We can imagine, too, that this discipline of gentleness multiplied in his own daily life brighter hopes of a more beloved existence. The increasing rays of knowledge in the opening mind of his son, from the simple purity of their light, communicated to his own intellect the twofold sensation of joy and calm,—the joy and calm that belong alike to time and to eternity.

We cannot analyze the mystery of such love, any more than we can exaggerate its intensity. We recognise a divine principle seeking mortal expression in the heart of one who was putting off mortality. It was a touching picture, who may tell its hidden meaning? The world receding,—all things hurrying towards the absorbing past,—the unknown assuming the shape of knowledge,—the future becoming present,—the invisible drawing near. At such a moment, earthly longings become eloquent, the human heart seeks enquiringly for its human heir, and the dying father is consoled by the caresses of his child! In the words of Southey, we may express for the deceased Baronet what was probably his last worldly wish, a wish, though born of earth, was already brightened with the hues of heaven:

“To leave behind a name, I trust,

 That shall not perish in the dust!”


The two events in recent years which most moved the English mind were, without question, the Crimean war, and the Indian mutiny; and the two episodes in those two events which perhaps attracted the most continuous interest, were neither dissimilar in character nor unlike in their surroundings.

The first was the defence of Kars, under the command of Lieut.-General Sir Fenwick Williams, who held the city for the Sultan; and the second was the defence of Lucknow by Major-General Sir John Inglis, who held it for the Queen. Beyond these general features of similarity, another may be mentioned, which is not without interest to British Americans generally, and to the inhabitants of Nova Scotia in particular, for both those distinguished officers were born in the latter Province.

And a charming old Province it is said to be! for, apart from its social, geographical, and physical attractions, Nova Scotia possesses a history such as we delight to read, to admire, and to shudder at. There are records of happy valleys, “favored sea slopes,” peopled, and made desolate, and peopled anew by a race, conspicuous only for the virtues of simplicity, innocence, and faith. There are, also, narratives of fraud, falsehood, and bloodguiltiness conceived in the spirit in which fanaticism enacted its blue laws, and characterized with that sort of religious zeal which a Pharisee may be supposed to practice who assumes the habit of a freebooter. Honor and justice should have wept, while humanity and reason cried “shame.”

The history of ancient Acadia is alike interesting for the virtues and crimes it records. Though the narrative has attracted the attention of poets, and by no means escaped the notice of historians, it nevertheless deserves to be studied for its own sake, and apart from the metrical fascination which Longfellow has thrown around it in his sorrow-laden epic of “Evangeline.” Like “Sweet Auburn,” Acadia, the delight of other days, with its simple elegance, its touching and tragic memories, its French traditions, its old flag with the white lilies of the Bourbons, its Norman customs, and its Gallic speech, together with its soft sad name, have all passed away.

“A hieland host of high born beggars,

 McLeans, McKenzies, and McGregors!”

have succeeded the earlier inhabitants, and have called the country “Nova Scotia,” after the land of their own indomitable race. Besides this early Scottish immigration, there is a more recent and an equally attractive infusion of United Empire Loyalist blood, and with it no small amount of pure Royalist principles. No better examples of fine old “fossil” Tories could, it has been amusingly represented, anywhere be found, or in a state of higher preservation, than in the Royal Province of Nova Scotia. “Brave old Tories,” who say what they think, and do what they say, who give their faith to their Church, and if need be, their lives to their Queen; for, they stedfastly believe the one, and nobly maintain the other. “Charming old Tories!” who relish “Sam Slick,” and devoutly believe every line of Haliburton’s “rule and misrule of the English in America.” “Glorious old Tories!” cavaliers as truly though without the flowing locks, as were their ancestors, who fought a failing cause at Naseby, or vowed vengeance at Whitehall for the blood of their murdered king. No wonder that such a Province should produce soldiers—such soldiers as possess the endurance of the Covenanter, and the dash of the Cavalier—such soldiers as need but the opportunity to shew the quality of their mettle, the extent as well as the temper of their courage—such a soldier as the gallant subject of our sketch.

Sir Fenwick Williams was born at Annapolis Royal, the former capital of Nova Scotia, on the 4th of December, 1800, where, during the administration of His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, his father, Thomas Williams, Esquire, held several military appointments. His early education was directed by his uncle, Colonel William Fenwick, of the Royal Engineers, who at that time was constructing the fortress of Spike Island in the harbour of Cork. Young Williams continued at a school near Cork, till 1814, when he went to England, and in May, 1815, entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich.

Owing to the great reductions of the Artillery and Engineers that followed the peace, Mr. Williams did not join the Regiment of Artillery till 1825, four years after he had passed his examination.

Having been stationed for a short time at Gibraltar, he proceeded in 1829 to the East Indies, and remained at the Island of Ceylon for nine years and a half. During each of those years, Mr. Williams visited the three Presidencies, and took the opportunity besides of seeing a good deal of Central India. About this time Sir Robert Wilmot Horton, the Governor, preferred the subject of our sketch, to an appointment in the Surveyor General’s department of Ceylon, where his talents were usefully employed in superintending the erection of the public buildings in Colombo, as well as in the construction of the roads and bridges which approach and surround that capital. In the winter of 1835-6, Mr. Williams left India, and, visiting Egypt, he saw all that was noteworthy in the Upper and Lower Provinces, availing himself of the opportunity of making the acquaintance of the celebrated Mahomet Ali, who, combining in his character the qualities of the tiger and the fox, ferocity and cunning, was always kind and courteous to Europeans. Passing thence to Syria, he lingered at Constantinople, and the Greek Islands, from whence, viâ Malta, Mr. Williams sailed for England, where he rejoined his regiment at Woolwich.

The time was about to arrive when the advantages of Oriental travel and experience were to become apparent. The “Eastern question” was suddenly re-opened, Mahomet Ali asserted his independence of the Sultan, and political complications, as well as confused quarrels, arose thereon between France, Russia, and England.

In the month of October, 1840, Lord Palmerston, who has always been reputed to possess a special liking for the Turks, as well as a resolute determination to maintain the integrity of the Ottoman Empire, sent instructions to Woolwich, to select for special service at Constantinople, an officer of Artillery whose duty it should be to examine and report on the Turkish Arsenals, with a view to render them more effective. Sir Hew Ross, the then Adjutant General, named the subject of our sketch to his Lordship. Whereupon Mr., now Capt., Williams, hastened, for the second time, to the Turkish capital, where he was at once attached to the British Embassy as military commissioner. Thus commenced in the “near East” a career which was destined to be famous.

From that time till 1843, Capt. Williams served in the Turkish Arsenals; but we may observe, in passing, it was not to his advantage, nor to the advantage of the Ottoman Empire, that the sovereign for the time being was Abdul Mesjid, and not the more resolute Sultan Mahmoud, his great reforming predecessor.

In December, 1843, Capt. Williams was sent as Her Majesty’s Commissioner to Erzeroum, in Upper Armenia, to meet in conference the Commissioners of Russia, Turkey, and Persia, for the purpose of settling the vexed questions of the Turco-Persian boundary. That commissionership, and that conference must have been anything but a joke. The address requisite to make a Turk and a Persian agree, must have proved very exhausting to Christian patience, and have been attended with weariness alike to flesh and spirit. How many chibouques such phlegmatic negociators must have smoked, it were idle to conjecture; but since the period consumed for determining this boundary extended from 1843 to 1849, we may easily imagine that the Russian commissioner, as well as Captain, now Major Williams, were beyond measure gratified when they brought the proceedings to a satisfactory conclusion. The treaty of “ten articles” being signed and ratified, Major Williams was instructed by the Earl of Aberdeen to carry out practically its provisions so far as they related to the boundary line of the two Musselman States. Officers were in like manner named by the other States, which were parties to the boundary treaty, namely, Persia, Russia, and Turkey.

In midwinter, in the year 1848, the four commissioners sailed from Constantinople, and having landed at Samsoun, on the Black Sea, they, at great personal risk, crossed Mount Taurus. Passing through the city of Mardin, in the northern part of Mesopotamia, they reached Mosul, the ancient Nineveh, where Major Williams, with that relish for work which seems always to have been second nature with him, addressed himself to the duty of carrying out the scientific and antiquarian excavations at that place for his friend, Mr. Layard, who was then absent at Constantinople. Leaving that city on rafts, supported, as is customary in the East, by inflated sheep skins and goat skins, the Commissioners reached Bagdad. Here they purchased tents, and organized for their greater convenience a mule and camel carriage department. Thus equipped, they proceeded to Busra, situated on the point formed by the junction of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, and thence to the contested ground at the entrance of the Persian gulf. During any season of unavoidable delay, it was the practice of Major Williams to turn his leisure to account, and thus while he awaited instructions from his government, he took the opportunity, not only of visiting ancient ruins, but of observing the modern condition of certain Asiatic tribes.

The official survey embraced the whole country from the Persian gulf to Mount Ararat, the intersecting point of the three great States of Russia, Turkey, and Persia. This arduous work involved daily marching and continuous camping, communicating, we are inclined to think, even to amateur Nomads, a sort of chronic taste for bachelor life, since the duty included the obligation of sleeping for three years and a half under canvas with either the pitiless burning desert for a bed, or, by way of variety, the cool slopes of the snowy mountains of Southern Persia and Kurdistan, where the degree and quality of the frost must have been something to remember, and, if possible, to avoid. Another office of the commission was to enquire into the suzerainty of every Chief of this turbulent region; and since many of those soldier robbers commanded from ten to twenty thousand followers, Major Williams, in addition to the duty with which he was charged of obtaining statistical information for his government, had the opportunity of observing as well as acquiring a personal influence with those warlike tribes.

The work of the four commissioners arrived at a poetical termination, for it was finished on Mount Ararat. Having folded their plans and packed their instruments, they descended the mountains of Armenia, until they found themselves once more on the borders of the Euxine, and as if to preserve an historical analogy, on the exact spot where the wearied and harassed army of Xenophon glimpsed and welcomed the sea with shouts of joy! Embarking at Trebizonde, they landed at Constantinople a few weeks before Prince Menschikoff arrived to conduct those diplomatic discussions which culminated in the Crimean war.

Reaction, as was natural, succeeded to this life of exposure and anxiety, and Colonel Williams became seriously ill. He therefore obtained leave of absence, and returned to England. Thus it chanced he was in London when the news arrived of the defeat of the Turkish army by the Russian forces under Prince Bebantoff, and of the former being driven under the walls of Kars. It was considered to be, and it was, a critical moment! An army had been beaten, vanquished, and driven to bay under the shadow of a fortress. Assistance and succour were immediately needed. The former was sent by the Queen in the person of one officer only, to be subsequently reinforced by three others and a doctor. Happily that one was equal to a host; such was the assistance. The succour, for some reason which we cannot understand, was not contributed at all! Colonel Williams immediately hurried to the threatened capital. It is true he was clothed only with indistinct powers, but then he possessed an imposing title, for he was “The Queen’s Commissioner.” Arriving with his four gallant friends, he lost no time in gathering the scattered fragments of a beaten army. He united together its separated parts, he inflamed it with his zeal, and fired it with his courage; and thus for a time at least he caused the inhabitants of England and of Europe to breathe hopefully for the safety, not only of Kars, but of Asiatic Turkey, of which it was considered to be the key.

The story of the defence, and the catastrophe of the surrender of Kars, are episodes in the history of warfare, without, as we are inclined to think, either precedent or parallel.

There is nothing in fiction more astonishing than the marvellous facts which gave as it were a magic meaning to that little word “Kars”! We read that a Turkish army had been beaten, vanquished, and driven by a superior Russian force; that being pursued to the shelter of a fortress, that army turned on its pursuers, and while standing at bay, called on its allies for help. Her Majesty’s Government seemed to answer the appeal of an army on the verge of annihilation by contributing to the crisis one military commissioner, three officers of subordinate rank, and a medical attendant. It is not necessary to enquire whether England could or could not have done more; but it is complimentary to the authorities to note the wisdom they displayed in selecting the agent, and the faith they manifested in appointing him to the work.

What Commissioner Williams was expected to accomplish, it were idle to enquire. As a commissioner to a foreign army, we may suppose his duties to have been those of a non-combatant, to note events and to report them, to continue passive and observant, with a facile inclination to chronicle occurrences.

Commissioner Williams, however, like a brave and loyal soldier, knew full well the great object for which the Eastern war was undertaken. He saw before him in the discomfiture of brave troops evidences too palpable of imbecility, and worse, of corruption in the commanding officer. He saw his opportunity of restoring to vigor a paralyzed force, of preventing an army from becoming dissolved, of preserving for some time longer the integrity of an Empire; and, as has been näïvely observed, “Colonel Williams at once interfered, committing thereby a breach of etiquette, but saving Asia Minor!” Doubtless it was a bold stroke for this extraordinary Englishman to deal, but then fortune favors the bold. The Turks were astonished, and shed their torpor, taking, it may be, a new view of their destiny. They shewed moreover their willingness to obey the orders of one who, with undefined powers and no physical force, seemed to exert a magical influence, to do as he liked and direct as he thought fit, irrespective of military or local authority.

“The Turkish soldiers,” said Dr. Sandwith, writing at the time and on the spot, “see him everywhere; he is with the sentries at the menaced point ere the morning has dawned, anon he is tasting the soldiers’ soup, or examining the bread, and if anything is wrong here, his wrath is terrible. His eyes are everywhere, and he himself ubiquitous; each soldier feels that he is something more than a neglected part of a rusty machine; he knows he is cared for and encouraged, and he is confident of being well led.”

The mysteries of war, diplomacy and government became at times so crossed and entangled, that it were idle even to attempt to unravel them. Thus we lose ourselves in a labyrinth, when we venture to interpret the catastrophe of Kars. We see an isolated deserted Asiatic town; we see it beleaguered by an army on whose brow there rests the flush of recent victory; we see it held and strengthened with persistent patience, and indomitable gallantry; we note the matchless endurance of its native defenders, and think that no troops in the world could display greater courage and heroism. We note, too, their diminished and diminishing magazines, and depleted stores. We watch with speechless interest the calm, unwavering courage of those heroic British officers, who, like wardens for their country, would, in her honor, hold both keep and fortress against all enemies from without. But we note, too, the inroads of the enemies from within, the lean and livid shapes of famine; the bony fingers fashioning with fatal accuracy new bills of mortality, or hollowing scanty graves wherein the attenuated shadows of brave soldiers may hurry away and hide from shame and surrender. Such intense suffering, such shrinking strength, such glorious constancy, merited some words of commendation, some notes of sympathy. They were looked for, listened for, and longed for with hungry expectancy, by all in that beleaguered garrison, and especially looked for, listened for, and longed for by the brave commander, who had written without acknowledgment, no less than sixty-one public and private despatches to his official superior at Constantinople. Why such energy won no sympathy, why such courage conciliated no support, why such heroism provoked no acknowledgment, must, we think, for the present continue to be regarded as a state mystery. In the meanwhile we shall agree with Mr. D’Israeli in opinion, “that the man who merits success, like the man who achieves success, deserves well of his country!” And Mouravieff, the gallant and high-minded Russian commander, in addressing General Williams on receiving the surrender of the fortress, is reported to have said:

“I have no wish to wreak an unworthy vengeance on a gallant and long suffering army which has covered itself with glory, and yield only to famine.” “They must be splendid troops”—he added, pointing to a lump of bread, and a handful of roots—“who can stand to their arms in this severe climate on such food as this. General Williams, you have made yourself a name in history; and posterity will stand amazed at the endurance, the courage, and the discipline which this siege has called forth in the remains of an army. Let us arrange a capitulation that will satisfy the demands of war without outraging humanity.”

Whatever difference of opinion may have existed as to the policy of the government with respect to the transactions at Kars, there was none on the unsurpassed gallantry with which those transactions had been conducted. Thus Lord Palmerston said, “A greater display of courage, or ability, of perseverance under difficulties, or of inexhaustible resources of mind, than was evinced by General Williams, never was exhibited in the course of our military history.” Mr. Maguire said, “That gallant public servant had set an example to the generals of the world! His was as brave a heart as had ever beat in human bosom; and had it not been for Lord Stratford de Redcliffe he would have been the saviour of Kars.” And with terrible force Sir Bulwer Lytton added, “The stain of the fall of Kars will still cling to your memory as a government, as long as history can turn to this book, for the record of a fortitude, which in spite of your negligence and languor, still leaves us proud of the English name.” While in the House of Lords the Earl of Derby, in language eloquent with the tones of triumph, said, “I would say to those gallant spirits, to Williams, to Teasdale, to Lake and Thompson, ‘You may rest assured that this house and the country deeply sympathize with you in your misfortunes! and we honor the valor and prize the fame of the brave but unsuccessful defenders of Kars as not below those of the more fortunate conquerors of Sebastopol.’ ” “The name of Kars,” continued his Lordship, “will be remembered to the immortal honor of its defenders! a name of everlasting triumph and distinction to the valiant souls, who, amid all the horrors of famine, and hemmed in on all sides by an overpowering force, again and again repulsed their enemy, on whom they on one occasion inflicted a loss almost exceeding the carnage of any battle of modern times, and who, in spite of every discouragement, maintained their high spirit, and achieved victory after victory until finally compelled to yield not to the overwhelming numbers of the foe, but to the still more unconquerable force of sheer famine. If on the conqueror of Kars, and still more on its heroic defenders, the name of that fortress reflects imperishable renown, I must say, with deep regret, it is equally a name of eternal reproach and shame to those, be they whom they may, by whom this devoted band was left without support and without relief, and this important town allowed to fall unsuccoured, and even unavenged.”

And stepping back again to the House of Commons, we hear Sir James Graham on one side, and Mr. D’Israeli on the other, expressing the like wish “that a proposal could have been made to vote the thanks of this House to General Williams;” but continued the latter, “We, too, were stopped by routine, there was no precedent.” “I think it would have been wise,” added Mr. D’Israeli, “if we had made a precedent. There would have been something noble in an exile, and a prisoner receiving the homage of an applauding senate, and an admiring country.” “Sir,” continued Mr. D’Israeli, “there are heroes in adversity, there are prisoners, not to say it profanely, who lead captivity captive. We have not been able to express those feelings, but at least we have done this, we have not taken refuge in a shameful silence. We have had the satisfaction of expressing our sympathy with heroic merit and with national honor.”

This debate received a suggestive comment two months later, when Sir William Fenwick Williams, the “hero of Kars,” was entertained at a banquet by the Army and Navy Club. He spoke in the following terms of the minister who had just been accused by a party in the House of Commons of neglect, little less than treasonable, towards the army at Kars:

“I have a sacred duty to perform in bringing to your notice the constant encouragement which I have received from the Minister of State, under whom I was particularly engaged—I mean Lord Clarendon. His despatches, when they arrived among us, produced, as it were, a kind of electric shock which impelled us to go on. We were not at the time a melancholy crew; we were laughing; we were merry; we were like men that would not be extinguished. We were surrounded by very great difficulties, but whenever the despatches arrived, they produced a most extraordinary effect upon us. Not only were these despatches read among us, but there were numerous private letters read from that nobleman, and if we had not on the receipt of them exerted ourselves to the utmost of our power, and valued our lives at the worth of a straw, we should not have been worthy of the name of Englishmen. I can assure you that the very soldiers who served with me were ready to die for him.”

Speaking of the transactions themselves and some of the incidents they embraced, Sir Fenwick Williams added:

“I must tell you, there sits Colonel Lake—there sits the man who was continually by my side, working by day at the fortifications, and watching unceasingly by them at night. There, too, sits Teasdale. Alas! Thompson is no more. I cannot present him to you, but I can assure you that they never would have lived until the eventful day of the 29th of September, if I had not laid upon them the iron hand of discipline. For day by day they were engaged with the enemy, and it was only my stern word of command which preserved them up to the last day of the struggle. Let me also point out to my young Secretary, a youth whom I took with me from his mother, and who proceeded step by step in his career, until the eventful day when taking command of a battery he did, I assure you, most essential service to our cause. I wish to associate myself with these my gallant companions in arms, and to share with them the honor which you have bestowed upon me. I must now tell you about the glory of the Turkish army—men who, when I came to them, were starving, were without clothes, men without hope; but such was their confidence in the efforts which I was able to make for them, that they stood by me in the most gallant manner. No troops on earth could have behaved better than those men; for instance, on one occasion at the battle of the 29th of September, about which you have all read, they had been working all day and watching all night at those fortifications;—but I wish to speak to you particularly about this 29th of September. They were not on this occasion an unruly undisciplined force behind walls, but were disciplined soldiers standing behind their entrenchments. Colonel Lake could tell you what they did, for no one could help admiring their courage, their discipline, their file-fire, their rolling fire. I assure you that neither the Guards of London, nor those of Paris, could have surpassed them. From early dawn till an hour after midday, that fire continued. The noise of a thousand drums never ceased for a moment, therefore you may suppose what soldiers they were. When the enemy got into those entrenchments, which in consequence of the absolute necessity for protecting other points were for the time unmanned, they were driven out again by those brave little fellows at the point of the bayonet.”

Referring to his captivity in Russia, and to the chivalrous conduct of General Mouravieff, Sir William said:

“From the very moment that we entered his camp, although we had inflicted very severe losses on his army, we were received with a charming frankness, and a delight which all gentlemen feel when they receive a friend. He received us in his camp as comrades, and from that time until the time we quitted the Russian dominions, we were treated with the greatest kindness. It may be said, to be sure, that such chivalry was to be expected from such high quarters; but when I tell you that he was equally kind and humane to the Turk, to the Turkish soldier, to the suffering starving host who went out to deliver themselves up that day, then I think you will give a cheer for General Mouravieff. From that moment every arrangement which humanity could suggest, and which the most extensive Commissariat could execute, was carried out. They clothed and re-clothed the Turks.”

The Legislature struck the key note, but the Empire had already caught the refrain, when it united in one chorus of praise to the indomitable and chivalrous defender of Kars. Though the rules of Parliament did not permit solemn thanks to be expressed, it emphatically declared that substantial rewards should be bestowed. A Baronetcy having previously been conferred by the Queen, under the style and title of “Sir William Fenwick Williams of Kars,” Her Majesty was graciously pleased, by Royal Message, to recommend that provision should be made “for securing to him a pension of £1,000 per annum for the term of his natural life.” We cannot condense the eloquent speech of Earl Granville in making the formal motion in the House of Lords; unfortunately, it is too long for insertion in this place. Neither can we find space for the speeches made by Lord Palmerston and others in the House of Commons on the same occasion. There is, however, no exaggeration in our statement when we say, that a thrill of ecstatic satisfaction encircled the Empire, and reverberated with sympathetic cadence through the Colonies, a thrill that was felt and acknowledged in colleges of learning, in halls of justice, and in marts of commerce. “In tower, and fort, and tented ground!” wherever devotion is admired, courage respected, and endurance ranked amongst the highest virtues,—no matter in what speech praise sought a voice, to what tongue it was attuned, or in what accents it was expressed,—no matter how diverse the men, or dissimilar their homage, one sentiment was uppermost in the minds of all, and that was a sentiment of pride, and gratitude that rewards, heroically earned, had been gracefully and ungrudgingly bestowed by the Queen and Parliament of England.

The City of London conferred on Sir Fenwick the freedom of that ancient Corporation, accompanying the honor with the gift of a State sword.

Nor in England alone were honors and distinctions given to Sir William Fenwick Williams. The Sultan created him Mushir, that is a Pasha of the highest rank, and conferred on him the First class of his Order. Napoleon the Third created him Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor, and added, as a mark of his personal admiration, a sabre with a diamond hilt.

The Province of Nova Scotia enrolled the name of Sir Fenwick in the ranks of her most illustrious sons, accompanying the proceeding with the following Resolution. The sword referred to, we may add, was wrought of steel and gold obtained from the mines of Nova Scotia:

House of Assembly,

Nova Scotia, Saturday, 16th February, 1856.

On motion of the Hon. Attorney General “Resolved unanimously, That His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor be respectfully requested to expend one hundred and fifty guineas, in the purchase of a sword to be presented to General Williams, as a mark of the high esteem in which his character as a man and a soldier, and more especially his heroic courage and constancy in the defence of Kars are held by the Legislature of his native Province, and this house will provide for the same during its present session.”

The foregoing Resolution was unanimously agreed to by the Legislative Council on Tuesday, 19th February, such concurrence being communicated to the House of Assembly by Mr. Haliburton.

Nor may we omit to notice, that though the enemy to whom he surrendered, and the country against which his arms were directed, could confer no other distinction, they nevertheless paid to their illustrious captive the homage which bravery and success never withhold from courage and misfortune,—the homage of an intense admiration. General Mouravieff showed the knightly qualities of his soldiership in the terms of capitulation which he granted to General Williams and his heroic army; and the present Czar, the Emperor Alexander, manifested the princely qualities of his mind in graciously receiving as a friend and a guest, one who had been sent to him as an enemy and a captive. Such records in some sort lighten the horrors of war, and go far towards “making ambition virtue!”

The great beauty of true bravery is, that it is commonly one of many kindred virtues, it rarely stands alone! Sir Fenwick Williams is no exception to this general rule. It would be impertinent and out of place to particularize the points that sustain the analogy. Many in Canada could, were they so inclined, fill up the outline. Good done by stealth, not unfrequently becomes fame, and the open hand cannot always conceal the habit of benevolence.

Sir Fenwick will be remembered with kindliness by all. His arrival in Canada was greeted with many welcomes, and his departure will be followed by many regrets. The lesson of his career, however, will not depart with him; it will remain as a subject of study, while his example will be treasured as a pattern for imitation. The race of glory, it should not be forgotten, is open to every one. The prize, however, will commonly be found in the path of duty. To-day it belongs to the boy of Annapolis, to-morrow it may be won by a youth of Canada.

“Let us then be up and doing,

  With a heart for any fate,

Still achieving, still pursuing,

  Learn to labor, and to wait!”


By profession a doctor, but by taste a soldier, it is probable that the subject of our sketch gave his mind to Esculapius, and his heart to Mars,—“the Divinity that shapes our ends,”—shapes them in accordance with His wisdom rather than with our wish. For it rarely happens that the dream of life corresponds to the duty of life. Our occupations seem but remotely related to our hopes; and the work which in fact we are called on to perform, is by no means the work which in fancy we pictured for our performance.

Sir E. P. Taché is, we incline to think, no exception to what appears to be an ordinary law. In his early youth, the inclination of his ardent and enthusiastic mind was sufficiently evident, and it found a congenial outlet when he offered himself as a cadet for the profession of arms. No sooner did he “hear of battles,” than he sought “a place in the field,” with “his face to the foe.” His ambition was, for it is the ambition of youth, to live in fame if not in life, to show by his example with what chivalrous zeal a native land may be defended, and a just government obeyed.

Thus, on the breaking out of the war in 1812, between Great Britain and the United States, we find Etienne Pascal Taché following the bent of his mind, as well as the instinct of his martial race. He willingly forsook the quiet occupations of civil life, and, with the alacrity of youth, presented himself for active military service. Being appointed an Ensign in the fifth battalion of Incorporated Militia, he was immediately assigned to duty on the Frontier. On his promotion to the rank of Lieutenant, he was transferred to the regiment of Canadian Chasseurs, in which memorable corps he served with distinction in several engagements with the enemy, for one of which, that of Chateauguay, he received a medal.

The war, happily for the interests of the two countries, was of short continuance. With the return of peace came the reduction of the naval and military establishments. Mr. Taché, finding his occupation in the “wounding” art gone, betook himself with commendable earnestness to the “healing” one. He studied medical science with as much ardour as he had studied military art. The result of continuous labor, success, crowned his exertions. He obtained his “M.D.” degree, and settled in the parish of St. Thomas, where he was born, and among the people with whom he had been brought up.

The personal and local influence which a medical man acquires, is no matter of surprise. We respect, and are grateful for, the skill that alleviates suffering, and the knowledge that ministers to health. It is not, therefore, much to be wondered at that the trust and confidence which such qualities inspire should naturally find a larger field of display. The man in whose hands we place the issues of life may not unnaturally be entrusted with the management of interests less vital. Therefore it happens that the successful doctor of a county, or parish, not unfrequently becomes the popular member of parliament. Such seems to have been the history of Dr. Taché’s advancement, for, at the general election in the year 1841, he was returned to the Legislative Assembly as member for the county of L’Islet.

Enthusiastically attached to the interests of his race, and earnestly bent on asserting for it the rights which he believed it should enjoy, it may, we think, nevertheless be presumed that Dr. Taché had little sympathy with those forms of amelioration which had been shaped for it in the somewhat republican resolutions of the Assembly of Lower Canada. For, as he religiously believes, or rather is said to believe, there can “be no Church without a Bishop,” so also it may be conjectured he is of opinion there should be “no State without a King!” It was, we may reasonably suppose, alike from principle and inclination that Dr. Taché avowed himself to be an ardent monarchist, as well as a faithful subject of the English Crown. When the occasion offered, he spoke not only for himself, but for his compatriots; as within the walls of Parliament he declared his firm conviction “that the last gun that would be fired for British supremacy in America, would be fired by a French Canadian.”

The government of the day, taking advantage of his military experience, as well as of his martial ardour, sought for and obtained his services in a department of public duty which he was eminently qualified to fill. He was, on the 1st of July, 1846, offered and accepted the appointment of Deputy Adjutant General of Militia for Lower Canada, and henceforward became known by the title, by which he is still popularly called, of “Colonel Taché.”

Colonel Taché was observed to possess administrative abilities of a very marked kind; and it was not therefore surprising that Sir Louis Lafontaine, on being commanded, in March, 1848, to form a ministry, should have requested that officer to give his assistance to the government about to be organized, by accepting the appointment of Chief Commissioner of Public Works, with a seat in the Executive Council. In complying with Sir Louis Lafontaine’s wish, Colonel Taché was not only obliged to vacate the post of Deputy Adjutant General of Militia, but he was required again to enter Parliamentary life. He neither shrank from the present sacrifice, nor the future responsibility. He resigned an appointment that was congenial and permanent, for one that was foreign to his taste, and uncertain in its tenure. He re-entered Parliament by accepting a seat in, and thus became a life member of, the Legislative Council.

In the following year, Colonel Taché resigned the office of Chief Commissioner of Public Works, for the equally honorable but less laborious one of Receiver General. This post he continued to fill till the month of September, 1854, when, on the resignation of the Honorable Mr. Hincks, Colonel Taché became the leader of the Lower Canada section of the coalition Government, popularly known as the “MacNab-Taché” administration. On the retirement of Sir Allan MacNab in May, 1855, the Honorable John A. Macdonald succeeded as leader of the Western section of the Cabinet, which then became known as the “Taché-Macdonald” administration. At the time of these changes, Colonel Taché availed himself of his privilege of selecting for himself the office of Speaker of the Legislative Council. This appointment Colonel Taché held till November, 1857, when he retired from the administration, and, as he intended and stated at the time, from the more active duties of public life. We may add, that for the five months previous to this date, on the resignation of the Honorable Mr. Cauchon, in addition to his other duties, Colonel Taché discharged the office of Commissioner of Crown Lands. In the same month of the following year, Her Majesty was graciously pleased, in recognition of his great services, to confer on Colonel Taché the honor of Knighthood; and in July, 1860, on the occasion of being specially invited to Windsor Castle, Sir Etienne was, with Sir Allan N. MacNab, appointed, not only to the honorary rank of Colonel in the British army, but to the distinguished one of Aide-de-Camp to the Queen. We may add, that in the latter capacity he was attached to the suite of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales on his memorable tour through the British American Provinces.

Though Sir Etienne had retired from the more responsible duties of political life, he did not withdraw from Parliament. On the contrary, he regularly attended the sittings of the Legislative Council, and took an active part in the discussion of all questions of public interest. He had neither the wish nor disposition to indulge his mind with the luxury of “a fallow.” Indeed rest would seem to be foreign alike to his habit and his inclination. Perhaps, too, his professional observation may have suggested that there are periods in human history and points in human life, when mental idleness is apt to produce mental weakness, and when a loss of intellectual tension cannot easily be regained. He, therefore, who would avoid this species of slow decay should not forego the discipline of work.

The occasion, moreover, arose in which Sir Etienne recognized an appeal made to his patriotism and his feelings. Too humane to court a state of warfare, he was too courageous to decline it, if it were forced on him. The affair of “the Trent” stirred his feelings to their utmost depths. In the decline of life he found himself attracted towards the studies which had fascinated him in its dawn. Half a century had wrought no change in him. The youth who had answered the “bugle call” of his king, was ready in his age to respond to the like summons of his Queen. He who had given to the grandfather the service of a soldier, was prepared to give to the grand daughter the counsel of a sage. Thus it was Sir Etienne found himself again in harness, working with untiring industry on the commission appointed to inquire into, and report on the state and organization of the militia. Of their report, and the Bill which followed, it is not necessary in this place to speak.

Sir Etienne, as we have had occasion to observe, is by instinct as well as conviction, a monarchist. He has seen the Queen at home. He has been the subject of Royal benignity as well as the recipient of Royal honors. He has observed under circumstances irresistibly attractive the visible embodiment of that theory of rule which his intellect approved. He has stood in the presence of perhaps as fair a type of human goodness as the world can show. He has experienced the spell-like attraction of that subtle power, which, like an influence, seems to invest the representative of human sovereignty. Thus opinion has, through the ordeal of observation, passed onward to conviction, causing what was only a principle of his intellect to become a passion of his heart.

Such feelings and such experiences may, we think, be regarded as the parents of strong emotions. For example, when the nation mourned for the early death of the Prince Consort, Sir Etienne appeared to feel as if the shadow of the destroyer had crossed his own threshold. And so, too, when the nation rejoiced at the marriage of the Prince of Wales, many may remember in what muffled tones of sorrow the gallant Knight sought to articulate his sympathy with the mourning Queen on an occasion which must have been blended with bitter memories to her; as well as his broken joy notes for the popular young Prince and Princess, whose futures appeared blazoned with such bright hopes. The scene and the surroundings represented but a simple ceremonial. Even the painter’s art could not have invested it with beauty. Still, as a mental picture, it was very interesting in its outlines, and almost affecting in its simplicity. The Legislative Councillors, the Peers of the Province, assembled in more than their usual number. The white favor which, in honor of the day, shed light on every breast, suggested a happy present, if not an historic past. Thought, no doubt, gathered gladness, and lingered with delight amidst the peaceful wedding scenes of Windsor. And bright-winged fancy, swallow-like skimming the stream of time, may, peradventure, in brushing her feathers against recent recollections, have revived old registers. One touch may have started an historic parallel, and another an historic contrast. Here memory would recognise peaceful similitudes between the present, and that Royal marriage of love and worth at which the widowed Queen was the bride. There imagination might recall strange diversities in those angry times, when, for example, at the quiet town of Reading, the Fourth Edward presented his fair young wife, Elizabeth Woodville, to those faithful Knights and gentlemen who had sworn within the realm of England to wear their stainless “favors,” and with their lives assert the supremacy of the “white rose” of Plantagenet. Reflections foreign to the mere incidents of the event were doubtless present to many minds, for the latter, in their local aspects, were but trivial, and apparently of but small account. There were a recent widowhood and a Royal marriage. To the former had been paid the tribute of an almost universal grief. To the latter was offered the homage of an almost universal congratulation. Sorrow and joy, however, are near akin, and not unfrequently wait on one another. In this fact may be found the key of those contrary emotions which are apparently as necessary, and certainly as are constant in their attendance at a wedding feast, as is the clergyman himself. They were not absent from the Legislative Council on the occasion in question. The white ribbon and the orange blossoms, it may be, provoked their presence. And thus it chanced that the impromptu state ceremonial, with its loyal association of sad memories and bright hopes, sufficed to make practiced debaters falter in their speech, and obliged a veteran politician, like the subject of our sketch, to apologize for brevity and incoherence. Shakespeare, the subtle alchemist of human nature, wrote truly when he said, “There is a majesty doth hedge a king,” in respect of which all reasoning is idle. The laws of reverence are independent of the rules of logic. Their influences are matters of feeling, which the rationalist may resist, but which he cannot remove.

Retirement from the more active duties of political life, was not to be indulged by Sir Etienne. The peculiar state of parties in Parliament made Legislation well nigh impossible. The Sandfield MacDonald-Dorion government, then in power, to which Sir Etienne had been opposed, appealed to him, but without success, to alter his resolution and afford them the advantage of his personal aid. Failing in their attempt to secure his or other co-operation, they, in the month of February, 1864, resigned. Sir Etienne’s political allies were necessarily called on to form a ministry, and they earnestly requested Sir Etienne, who had been their chief, and who might almost be regarded as the “Nestor” of Canadian politicians, to undertake the task of constructing an administration, offering to serve under his guidance. Moved by personal, as well as patriotic considerations, Sir Etienne yielded to his friends what he had refused to his opponents, and undertook the duties he was invited to discharge, electing for himself the offices of Receiver General and Minister of Militia affairs. Once more he left his quiet home at Montmagny, to renew his connection with the strife and turmoil of political life. The resolve was high-minded in itself, but it was also a graceful tribute to the quality of friendship and the claims of friends.

As Jeremy Taylor quaintly observes, “friendship is the wine of life, which grows better as it grows older!” The sentiment of a Bishop was, on the present occasion, the experience of a statesman. The appeal from which, without a twinge, Sir Etienne turned with unconcern, wore a new shape when it was enforced by considerations of feeling as well as of duty, by personal as well as by patriotic arguments. Thus after a voluntary retirement of nearly seven years, the gallant Knight, like an experienced pilot, found himself once more at the helm, and required to steer the ship of State through a very stormy sea.

Happy in the possession of that which but too frequently deserts old age “as honor, love, obedience, troops of friends!” Sir Etienne wore in the face of Parliament

“The marks of many years well spent,

 Of virtue, truth well tried, and wise experience.”

The times, however, “seemed to be out of joint.” Although the subject of our sketch attached to his Government much of the wisdom, the experience and the eloquence of his supporters those qualities could not, and did not secure the ministry from defeat. Parties in the Legislative Assembly were too evenly balanced, and too highly excited to make rule practicable. Concession appeared to be out of the question, and compromise had been attempted without success. Sir Etienne’s presence and counsel could not secure the administration against an adverse vote. On the 14th of June, 1864, it fell before the argument of numbers, and there seemed to be but little hope of extricating the country from the embarrassing dilemma which personal rancour and sectional entanglements had brought about. Then, however, it was that the old proverb appeared to receive a new verification. Legislation seemed to have attained its lowest depth. Matters had evidently arrived at “the worst.” The question was, would they mend? The Representative of the Sovereign and the head of the Provincial Government were equally anxious to discover a way of escape from such bewildering difficulties. Would it be found, and where? The pause was a troubled one, and laden with anxiety. At length, patriotism shed its torpor; faction forgot its enmities. The veil of passion seemed to fall, and a vision of duty appeared to pass before the minds of men, that kind of duty which, in its highest type, is commonly found to be associated with sacrifice. The vision became a reality. Old enmities were laid aside; new alliances suddenly sprung up, alliances which few people expected, but at which most people rejoiced. Thus at the season of its greatest need, the country received the advantage of a strong and vigorous administration, composed of members representing in the Legislative Assembly the majority of Upper, as well as of Lower, Canada votes.

It is no part of our plan to discuss questions of public policy. Still the thoughtful observer will scarcely fail to note that by arguments somewhat analogous, and through channels strikingly identical, earnest and sincere men from distant rather than dissimilar points of reflection, have arrived at the same conclusions. The new chapter in Canadian politics illustrates an old truth in English progress, namely, that the history of constitutional government is, in part at least, the history of compromise and concession.

The coalition of parties occasioned certain personal changes in the Cabinet; but the retirement of some members, and the succession of others, did not affect the position of the head of the Provincial administration, for Sir Etienne Taché continued to be the Premier.

With the new ministerial alliance there seemed to arise a new era in the history and politics, not only of Canada but of the British possessions in America. The statesmen of the different Provinces thought the time propitious for making some effort to draw more closely together the separated communities. To seek by union and intercourse to turn to account the elements of strength and prosperity which were supposed to be weakened and wasted by separation and estrangement. Imperial sanction was sought for and obtained, and Provincial co-operation was solicited and granted. The result was a conference at Quebec of Delegates from all the Provinces, convened by authority, for the express purpose of discussing the principles under which such a union might be brought about, and the guarantees by which it should be preserved. As the records of this convention will form an important chapter in British American history, and as the subject of our sketch was, by acclamation, elected President, we think it well to group together the names of the Delegates, as well as the Provinces they represented.

The Honorable Sir Etienne Pascal Taché, President of the Conference.



The HonorableSir E. P. Taché,The HonorableJ. C. Chapais,
J. A. Macdonald,George Brown,
G. E. Cartier,O. Mowat,
A. T. Galt,Wm. McDougall,
A. Campbell,Jas. Cockburn,
T. D’Arcy McGee,H. L. Langevin.
Nova Scotia:
The HonorableCharles Tupper,The HonorableJonathan McCulley,
William A. Henry,Adams G. Archibald.
R. B. Dickey,  
New Brunswick:
The HonorableS. L. Tilley,The HonorableE. B. Chandler,
W. H. Steeves,J. H. Gray,
P. Mitchell,Charles Fisher.
J. M. Johnson,  
Prince Edward Island:
The HonorableJ. Hamilton Gray,The HonorableG. Coles,
E. Palmer,T. H. Haviland,
N. H. Pope,Edward Whelan.
A. A. McDonald,  
The HonorableFrederick B. T. Carter,The HonorableAmbrose Shea.

Of the Resolutions that resulted from the Conference it is not necessary to say more than that they were drawn up with great sagacity, considered with exemplary patience, and adopted with praiseworthy unanimity; furthermore that they bear the approving signature of each member of the delegation.

At a banquet given at Quebec in honor of the Delegates, and perhaps, too, for the purpose of affording the subject of Confederation a public airing, Sir Etienne Taché is reported to have concluded a speech of much force and eloquence with words of rare wisdom, words which, following “the winter of our” political “discontent,” come to us like the breath of Spring laden with the invisible aroma of brighter days; words of charity and concord, of peace and good-will; words prophetic of a time when races and peoples now perilously separated shall not only approach one another with fraternal kindliness, but shall become fused and welded in an indissoluble and national union. Like the members of a healthful and vigorous body, each part shall minister to the other’s strength, and be at the same time the necessary and symmetrical portion of one complete and perfect whole. Sir Etienne “hoped that at no distant period a fraternal era might be opened to us by which the cool-headed and persevering Englishman might be drawn closer to the warm-hearted and generous Irishman, to the keen, persevering, and economical son of Caledonia, and the gay and chivalric offspring of old Gaul—each of these contributing their quota of the good qualities they had inherited from their ancestors, blended together in one grand people—“Acadian” or “Canadian” he did not care which, for they were both dear to his heart.”

In addition to the offices and honors mentioned in our sketch, that have been filled and received by Sir E. P. Taché, we may mention that he was a Director of the Grand Trunk Railway Company, as well as a member of the Board of Railway Commissioners. That he is President of the Board of Public instruction for Lower Canada, and we may add, a Knight of the Roman order of St. Gregory.

Besides possessing a great aptitude for work, Sir Etienne is a fluent and ready speaker, and possesses moreover a most enviable and exact knowledge of the French and English languages. Being his native tongue, it is probable that he speaks with more facility in the former than in the latter, but it is difficult to suppose he can do so with more grammatical accuracy. His wish to be understood by all, including those whose acquaintance with the French language is only very imperfect, as well as his natural courtesy, incline Sir Etienne on general occasions to address the Legislative Council in the English tongue. This practice of speaking in an acquired language has no doubt placed much constraint on Sir Etienne’s manner of speaking, and has, we think, exerted some influence on the style observed by him, even when he speaks in French. The declamatory, aggressive, almost angry tones that marked the manner of his earlier years, and to which exception was sometimes taken, seem to have subsided into a more colloquial, and as we think, a more effective style of address. Men of taciturn temperament, like some of the natives of the British Islands, persistently decline to be warmed by oratorical fire. They repel torrid, and yield only to temperate, speeches. It is the application of the old law of gentleness. Men are more easier attracted than impelled, more commonly moved by the harp of “Æolus” than the hammer of “Thor.” Sir Etienne, without perhaps being a showy, is an instructive, speaker. His well-stored mind appears to be a treasury of epigrams and apophthegms. These terse sentences he has the knack of tying into hard serviceable knots, and directing with a precision that causes them to stick. For it is to be observed they are remembered and quoted too. He is moreover fond of illustration, and takes pleasure in conveying his thoughts through the medium of metaphor and analogy; and these again are the more striking for being presented in familiar forms. Thus though Sir Etienne never dazzles, he always instructs. His aim is to do good and to be useful to his country; to serve rather than to shine; for, like the prophet, he is not anxious to “kindle a fire to compass himself about with sparks,” nor does he care “to walk in the light of that fire and in the sparks which he had kindled.” His aim is, and should it be the latest, it will at all events be the highest of his political life, to contribute what he can towards the construction of the framework of a great British American Empire; to bury the weaknesses and the estrangements of the past; to take counsel with the needs of the present; to find comfort in the hopes of the future; to look beyond the haze and smoke of rival sections and envious races to ultimate peace, ultimate safety, ultimate strength; and by the example of unswerving loyalty, unflinching courage, and unwearied vigilance, to prepare the public mind for the cordial union and consolidation of all races, classes, and creeds, in that grand monarchical Confederation which shall some day embrace the British Provinces in America.


“My eyes are dim with childish tears,

  My heart is idly stirred,

For the same sound is in mine ears,

  Which in those days I heard.”

As age advances, the recollections of our childhood are said to revive; the middle passage of life’s journey over the broad track of toil, care, and duty, becomes comparatively indistinct. Its expanse is too great and too much obstructed by many objects, for any single one to be fairly viewed. But the opening and closing scenes of a long life, like the morning and evening twilight in the glowing noontide of the year, draw closely together, so closely that they almost meet and touch one another. A narrow space on the orbit, a belt of brief midsummer night alone divides them, a belt which is scarcely darkness, for it is suffused with the splendour and sprinkled with the stars of June.

If human life, like time, moves in a sphere, and if three score years and ten may, according to the conditions of the sacred allotment, ordinarily complete the personal cycle, then perhaps the words of Wordsworth, with which we have prefaced our sketch, may not, unsuitably, occupy the place they fill. Fancy and imagination may befriend us, and usurp the offices of knowledge and observation when we venture to assume with respect to the Reverend subject of our sketch, that those reveries of his age are most exact in themselves, and with all their qualifying conditions, most exquisite in their charms, which recall the scenes and revive the memories of his youth.

There was in the County of Dumbartonshire, in the vale of Leven, on the right bank of the lovely stream of that name, a pleasantly situated village named Renton. The village has, no doubt, outgrown its youthful proportions. The child, who gathered wild flowers in the vale, or the boy who, perhaps with a bent pin, fished for minnows in the brook, would probably now fail to recognise the locality either of his pleasure or his sport. Man has invaded the realm of nature. Industry has multiplied her hives. The throb of the steam engine has silenced the choir of birds. Furnace and factory have displaced the “cotters’ ” dwellings; and a village which was once chiefly celebrated as the birth place of Smollett, is only spoken of now because cotton yarns are bleached, and cotton fabrics are printed there.

The lovely landscapes in his native vale of Leven no doubt exerted great influence on the feelings and taste of Smollett, for they are described with a hearty zest in “Humphrey Clinker.” Nor can we doubt that one like the subject of our sketch, whose delight is to commune with nature, to study the mysterious in her ways, and the beautiful in her works, would, had his manhood been passed where his childhood was nurtured, have given us a sketch not unworthy, perhaps, of being placed side by side with White’s natural history of Selborne, filled with reflections such as Sturm might have written, and with morals such as Blair might have preached.

In this little village of Renton, so named by Mrs. Smollett in honor of her daughter-in-law, Miss Renton, of Lammerton, the Rev. Dr. Mathieson was born. True, it is nearly seventy years since, for on the 1st of October next he will have attained the age of three score years and ten. In the school of that village he received the first rudiments of education. At the age of ten years he removed to Campsie, where, at the parish school, he prepared for College. At fourteen he matriculated, and at the age of twenty he received his A.M. degree. In the year 1823, he was licensed to preach the gospel, and on the 19th of October, 1826, he was, by the Presbytery of Dumbarton, ordained to St. Andrew’s Church, Montreal. He sailed from England four weeks after his ordination, and arrived at Montreal on the 24th of December, when he entered immediately on the duties of his sacred office.

Dr. Mathieson’s personal history resembles the history of many a Scottish youth. It commences bleakly, if not amidst adversity, at least somewhat distantly removed from fortune. His father, the son of a farmer, in Sutherlandshire, in early youth left his native hills, and animated with the common desire of the Scottish race to see the world, he enlisted as a soldier. Having served his king and country with honor and credit for upwards of twenty years, he returned to his native land. The taste for foreign adventure was satisfied. Another view of life rose before his mind. The fascinations of home touched his heart, and awoke, it may be, the slumbering chord of sympathy. The monotony of garrison duty had become irksome to him. He looked for occupation that would help to realize his newly-born hopes, and we may add, to maintain his newly acquired wife, where, in the atmosphere of his own abode, round his own humble hearthstone he might enjoy in peace the prose of competence flavored with the poetry of love. With the approbation of his commanding officer, he left the army, and addressed himself to the duty of acquiring a knowledge of, perhaps the most intellectual of all trades, namely, that of a printer. Certainly it showed no inconsiderable force of character for one at his age, and with his experiences, not only thoroughly to change his occupations, but to acquiesce in the necessary means of doing so by submitting to begin life anew as an apprentice. It may be that love, that “mighty lord,” had humbled him; for, if we are not misinformed, it was somewhere about this time he met his “Rachel” in the attractive person of one, who, by admiring friends, was familiarly called “Janet Ewing,” a cheerful happy maiden, of singular worth, sagacious wisdom, and quick intelligence; to obtain whom as his wife, her lover, whether soldier or apprentice, thought no toil too great, and no servitude too long. They married, and one blessing that of length of days was pre-eminently their portion; for he, an Elder of the Church of Scotland, died at the age of eighty-two, and she at ninety-four.

Contentment was vouchsafed, but wealth was denied to them. Though respectable and respected in their sphere, the parents of the subject of our sketch were comparatively poor. Young Mathieson was indebted to them, and perhaps to their self-denial for a liberal education. He was indebted to his own energy and sagacity for turning that education to beneficial account. Certainly the lesson which his example teaches, might be studied with advantage by the youth of other countries than Scotland. After he had matriculated, and when laboriously working for his University degree at the age of sixteen only, we find him teaching an evening school at Woodside, not far from Glasgow. The remuneration for intellectual toil is scarcely creditable to a country where intellectual culture is so highly esteemed. We have, however, reason to believe that young Mathieson’s was by no means an exceptional case. The struggles, the hardships, and the privations of student life, he only shared in common with many others of the student class. The remuneration which our University man received, did not exceed six shillings sterling a week, one third of which was contributed by the proprietors of some adjacent cotton works, and the remainder was assessed on the scholars. Pitiful as the sum must seem, we incline to think that in this school of experience Mr. Mathieson acquired what, in its immediate and remote importance, was the reverse of trifling. He acquired that in the absence of which no man can govern others, namely, self-discipline and self-control. Thus, while imparting intellectual, he was receiving experimental, culture, and receiving it, too, in that perplexing branch of knowledge which Pope expressed when he wrote—

“The proper study of mankind is man!”

On leaving the University, Mr. Mathieson became the resident tutor to the family of Robert Campbell, Esq., of Rosneath. Of this refined and cultivated circle, he continued to be a member for eleven years; and though it is somewhat anticipating the incidents of our narrative, we may mention that the friendship commenced then is preserved to this day. The affection which not unfrequently subsists between tutor and pupils did not expire with the departure of the former from Rosneath. The teacher became a minister, and the boys grew to be men, but though the old connection had ceased, the old influence remained. The difference being that whereas the minister was formerly a member of his pupils’ family, now some of those pupils have become members of his Church.

His first publication is an occasion to be noted by an author, but the circumstances which gave rise to Mr. Mathieson’s earliest appearance in print, are not likely to pass away from his mind. They are probably still remembered by some of the older inhabitants of Montreal. Mr. Mathieson was sitting in the house of, and at the time conversing with his friend, Mr. Robert Watson, the flour inspector of Montreal, when the latter was fatally shot by an assassin through the window. Mr. Watson survived only until the following evening. The author of the crime has never been discovered. Under such circumstances, with feelings overwrought, and highly excited, Mr. Mathieson preached a sermon that touched on the event, for the deceased gentleman was a member of St. Andrew’s Church, as well as his personal friend. The sermon was published at the request of the congregation, but it is noteworthy, chiefly as the first literary milestone in Mr. Mathieson’s career. Till then he had never seen himself in type.

Mr. Mathieson took an active part in asserting what he believed to be the rights of the Church of Scotland to an equal share with the Anglican Church, of the Clergy Reserves. The result of the agitation has passed into history, and it were idle, even if it were wise, or our space permitted, to discuss the question anew. Those who resisted what they regarded as spoliation, and those also among whom the spoils were divided, alike glory in the parts they took. The heat of controversy has passed away, but the consequences remain. It is probable, with respect to some of us, having seen the end of strife, had we to live our lives again, we should hesitate to repeat the proceedings of the past. The divergence between the religious objects for which the Clergy Reserve appropriations were made, and the secular uses to which they have been applied should, we think, make men very thoughtful. “Had an enemy done this” it might have been borne, but the wound was inflicted in the “house of her friends,” and the Reformed Church still reels under the blow that was struck by Protestants. Perhaps some future Sir Henry Spelman may discover in the history of those lands, materials for a new chapter on Sacrilege; but it will certainly perplex another Dean Trench in a new treatise on “the study of words” to trace, in the mutation of terms, the way in which the phrase “Protestant Clergy” lapsed from its original personal meaning, and within a period of seventy years only, was for practical purposes, considered to be synonymous with, “roads and bridges,” or “court houses and gaols.”

Being present at the University of Glasgow in the year 1837, on the day on which the Duke of Montrose was installed as Chancellor, Mr. Mathieson, without previous intimation, had the honor of hearing his name announced among the names of those on whom the D.D. degree had been conferred. It is well that no permission had been sought for, for it is more than probable Dr. Mathieson’s innate modesty of character would have inclined him to shrink from accepting such a well deserved honor.

After his return to Canada, in the very year in which the Clergy Reserve question was settled by the Act of 1840, the subject of our sketch appeared to think he might give his mind a holiday and his heart an indulgence. The first was absolved from further strife, and the second was relieved of further solitude. The festival of ecclesiastical peace was followed by a festival of personal happiness. Having successfully secured certain benefits for his church, he fairly thought himself entitled to certain blessings for himself. On this supposed conviction he acted, for in the year we have named he married Catherine, the daughter of John Mackenzie, Esq., of Montreal. Unhappily for him, she died in 1856. Of her excellence and his grief we will not permit ourselves to speak; nor is it necessary, for neither are forgotten.

A sketch of the history and progress of the Scotch Church since Dr. Mathieson’s arrival in Montreal, would be very interesting, but it must be sought for elsewhere than in these pages. Suffice it to say that in 1826 there were three Scottish Churches in Lower Canada, and five in the Upper Province, and that two of these were not supplied with ministers. As an instance of the tolerant feelings of the Clergy of the Roman Catholic Church at Montreal, it may be mentioned that during the period occupied in the erection of the first Presbyterian place of worship in that city, the congregation were accommodated in the Church of the “Récollets,” whose ministers, however, not only declined to receive any money equivalent for the use of their building, but expressed sincere regret when the arrangement was terminated. Such was the liberality of sentiment and generosity of feeling that characterized the French Canadian Clergy in those early days.

Dr. Mathieson was a member of the first Presbyterian Synod in 1831. He was chosen Moderator, firstly in 1832, and again in 1860, the latter being the year His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales visited the British American possessions. As Moderator, and being also the senior Minister of the Church of Scotland in Canada, it devolved on him to read and to present the congratulatory address of the Synod of the Scotch Church to His Royal Highness. Some mistake occurred which touched the Doctor on a very tender point. The address of the Anglican Church had been formally presented, and graciously received. The address of the Scottish Church the authorities had arranged should be received in a less marked and imposing manner. Now the worthy Doctor is, we believe, a “Church and State” man, a loyalist by instinct, and a royalist by conviction; none who know him would, we venture to think, question either his religious or his political faith. It was therefore intolerable to him that the cherished Church of his country should seem to suffer in status, and by comparison, appear to be dwarfed, if not abased, in the presence of her more august Anglican sister, and worse still, that she should be made to consort with inconstant company, and be rated as of no more account than the various denominations of ephemeral nonconformists, which had grown up about her. This seemed to him to be the position she would be made to occupy, if he consented to present the address of the Synod in any other than the formal way in which the Metropolitan of the Anglican Church had been allowed to present the address of that body. Flesh and blood could not stand such a seeming slight, such a real distinction. None doubted the reverential loyalty of the true-hearted Doctor. Church and Prince were dearer to him than his life. For either, if called on so to do, he would willingly “lay him down and die.” It was a trying struggle to a man so conscientious. With love of his Church in one scale, and loyalty to his Prince in the other, duty for a moment seemed to be in suspense, but only for a moment. Doubt succumbed to determination. The scales had vibrated, but the one laden with his higher love shewed its controlling weight, for the Doctor resolutely determined not to present the address. He would not slight his Church to win the smiles of his Prince; nor was it necessary. The Prince was highly amused at the uncourtly exhibition, and we have little doubt as highly esteemed the conscientious man. The contretemps obliged the Doctor to make a trip to Kingston, where, on board the steamer of that name, he had the honor of presenting the address in due form.

In 1860, a movement was made in the Scottish body to re-unite all the seceding Presbyterian denominations. This union was, we believe, to be effected by some sort of compromise. Now concession, where the higher interests of his Church are concerned, is out of the question. Dr. Mathieson would as soon think of purchasing immunities to sin as of securing peace at the price of truth. As Moderator, he preached a sermon, which was subsequently published, of great force and eloquence against the movement. The project failed, and it is probable the solemn and earnest protest had something to do with its failure.

Dr. Mathieson’s life commenced in lowliness of station, but the ladder of his ambition was for him rightly placed, when it rested against the Church of his fathers. Ascending step by step, adding virtue to faith and knowledge to both, it is probable he has meekly carried within his heart the good man’s blessing, “a still and quiet conscience.” The “snows of eld” have, it is true, settled on his head, but we venture to think they have not yet bleached the greenery of his heart. In thought he is still young, and his benevolent sympathies flow towards youth, whose condition he would not willingly darken with a cloud, or vex with a care. The form of his Christian instruction is neither forbidding in its tone nor morose in its tendency. “Religion,” as we understand his published words, “never was designed to make our pleasures less.” It was rather intended to cleanse and not to crush those pleasures, to elevate the duties and enjoyments of our daily life, and make them meet for a higher service.

“Thou fair Religion wast designed,

   Duteous daughter of the skies,

 To warm and cheer the human mind,

   And make men happy, good, and wise;

 To point where sits in love arrayed

   Attendant to each suppliant call,

 The God of universal aid,

   The God and Father of us all!”

We should be inclined to think that in addition to his natural benevolence of character, Dr. Mathieson possesses what phrenologists would call a largely developed organ of “reverence.” For example, his public prayers which as is usual in the Church of Scotland, are extemporaneously delivered, would not truly represent his private thoughts if he failed with heart and voice to supplicate the “God supreme” to “bless and protect our Sovereign Lady Queen Victoria.” His old faith and heritage in “Fatherland” are inseparably associated with loyalty, and we think we may add with that type of it which is expressed by the words “divine right.” Indeed, had the subject of our sketch been born a century earlier than he was, we incline to the opinion that he would have indulged a minstrel’s sympathy for proscribed minstrelsy, and on the hills and among the heather, in the glens and beside the “lochs” of his native land, his voice would have swelled the refrain, and added emphasis to the forbidden chorus—

“For Charlie is my darling,

 The bold Chevalier.”

Unfortunately, Dr. Mathieson has given his thoughts almost wholly to his Church and congregation. It is only now and then the outside public is permitted to glimpse the style and manner of his teaching. Of the few discourses we have had the opportunity to read, none have touched us more than the one from the Prophet’s words, “We do all fade as a leaf.” Fancy and truth, the antiquary and the divine, the poet and the philosopher, meet and teach together. Thus the solemn facts of revealed religion are presented to the mind wreathed with the loveliness, and enforced by the analogies of nature. The preacher

“Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,

 Sermons in stones, and good in everything.”

On such occasions however, the beckoning memories of the past seem to call his thoughts to early days and early scenes. Passing by monuments and headstones, some newly placed, others mossy gray; passing by the men of the present day, men of the past generation, his saintly musings wait not and rest not, until they can linger, it may be, with fair-haired boys riotous in their mirth, his playfellows then, many of whom have long since crossed life’s stream, taking, perhaps, the “tide at the shallows.” These beckoning memories recall the unforgotten vale of Leven, fancy clad, bright with the glow of morning, and the glory of youth. The waiting future reveals another valley, dark and lonely, cold as death, and silent as the grave, the preacher’s caution, and frail man’s dread. Age thus approaches the winter of life; the air is flavored with its frosts; the wind moans unkindly; the fading foliage puts off its painted beauty, and with icy crispness rustles to its fall. The wish arises, and lingers reverently beside the subject of our sketch, that the leaves symbolic of good men’s lives might not forsake the parent tree—the world, alas! cannot spare them. May the Divine Benignity forgive the words; but to us, purblind mortals, it seems that earth, more than heaven, needs such lives.


“Scratch a Russian,” so runs the proverb, “and you will find a Tartar.” The European enamel only conceals the Asiatic substance. So with the subject of our sketch, though a Canadian by birth, by parentage and by choice; still, were we to glimpse his inner life, to remove the maple veneer, in other words, to “scratch” him, we should probably discover that the Hon. John Sandfield Macdonald, though nominally a Canadian, is really a Highlander, with all the characteristic attachments, and with some of the characteristic weaknesses that are said to distinguish the inhabitants of those sea-girt shores who acknowledge for their chieftain “the Lord of the Isles.”

Mr. Macdonald has the birth-right, which on appropriate festivals, he becomingly exercises, of wearing the maple leaf on his breast, of singing his national songs to Canadian airs, and of expressing national hopes of a future for his country which shall inseparably be associated with the Canadian race. Still should you even, amid such exciting pleasures, venture to “scratch” him, you may perchance learn to your cost that the guardian thistle flourishes at the root of the umbrageous maple, and that the thorn of the former can, without difficulty, penetrate the crust of the latter. Three generations of descent, and a century of absence, have not sufficed to exorcise the spirit of the Highlander. The Scot controls the Canadian; and the hereditary character of that noble race will, on compulsion and with dangerous emphasis, express itself in the menacing words: “Nemo me impune lacessit.”

The truth is, certain qualities which are said to be clannish, have become grafted on, and are, we think, inseparable from, Mr. Macdonald’s habit of thought. A friendship or an enmity, for example, a service or a slight, an attraction or an aversion, are nursed with green-house care, and if need be, set out and left to grow until they become sturdy enough for use. Thus, should the occasion arise, they will, in all probability, be turned to account with Highland exactness. Social and political, like economical and financial balance sheets, must be audited according to the hereditary law by which the descendants of “Siol Cuinn” are said to adjust their rights and their wrongs. This moral peculiarity will, we think, receive some illustration in the course of our remarks.

Noteworthy in his youth for the independent and self-reliant character which has marked his career, Mr. Macdonald, at a very early age, determined to shape his own course in life. Possessing few only of those adventitious aids that wait on the spoiled children of fortune, Mr. Macdonald must have observed vigilantly and labored steadily ere he mastered the social and political position which he has so long enjoyed. In his very tender age, he had the misfortune to lose his mother by death; and the plan of life which had been proposed to him by his father was, we believe, unsuited alike to his tastes and his aspirations. The laws of self-culture and self-reliance receive in his history a new illustration; for there are few personal narratives in the annals of our Canadian careers that afford more instructive lessons than that which is supplied by the subject of our sketch.

In the year 1832, having followed various occupations, and at a period of life when the duties of school instruction are commonly finished, Mr. Macdonald determined to address himself to the serious business of acquiring a liberal and exact education. With this object in view, he entered the Grammar School at Cornwall, then under the able direction of Dr. Urquhart. His fellow pupils may remember with what zeal he addressed himself to his duties, as well as the success that attended his industry; for at the examination which took place two years afterwards, he was declared to be “dux” of the school. Flushed, it may be, with the sense of academical success, and having determined to qualify himself for the practice of the law, Mr. Macdonald, in the year 1835, was presented as a candidate; and, after due examination, was entered on the rolls of the Learned Society of Osgoode Hall, as a Student at Law. Later in that year, he was articled to Mr. McLean, the present Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals for Upper Canada, who was then a practising barrister at Cornwall. On that gentleman’s elevation to the Bench, Mr. Macdonald entered the office of Mr. Draper, at Toronto, with whom he continued until the year 1840, when, his term of legal study being finished, he was called to the Bar.

Mr. Macdonald commenced his career in the town of Cornwall, where, by steady perseverance, he succeeded in establishing a large and very lucrative practice. His personal and political have grown side by side with his local and professional influences. Indeed the opinion may be expressed, that no public man in Canada has more attached friends and neighbours than the subject of our sketch. Being, so to speak, by birth the property of that section of Canada, he has by choice accumulated his possessions there. The people and the properties, his friends and his estates, have grown together. The laws of political and social reciprocity have been carried out. He has been true to the locality and the locality has been true to him. On his part it may be said, he has never “changed, or sought to change, his place;” and on the part of his neighbours it may be remarked, that they have never changed, or sought to change, their representative.

Mr. Macdonald had scarcely been admitted to the Bar when he was invited to represent the county of Glengarry in Parliament. The request was complimentary to his character and reputation, for since the loyal men of that section commonly choose to be represented by one of themselves, it may fairly be considered as something to be proud of, that they passed over the names of many an aged gentleman who was willing to serve them, for the sake of one scarcely more than a youth who had expressed no such willingness. To be sure, “the youth,” like Saul of old, was head and shoulders taller than his particular opponent; but since a man’s qualifications for a seat in Parliament depend more on his property possessions than his personal inches, more on his acts than his height, it is fair to assume that the question of physical longitude exerted but a small influence on the result of the election; though it is difficult to conjecture, in the absence of any marked contrariety of political opinion, why the electors of Glengarry should have indulged in the feminine luxury of caprice; why, in short, they were “off with their old love,” or why they were “on with the new.” No doubt their reasons for making the choice were sufficiently satisfactory. Apparently they occasioned no twinge at the time, nor have they since been followed by any audibly expressed scruples of conscience. Mr. Macdonald “came, saw, and conquered;” and, with a tendency which we regard as an especial trait of his character, he has retained without difficulty the fruits of his victory. As a member of the Assembly, he is now in point of seniority “The Father of the House.”

Doubtless the Glengarry and Cornwall constituencies are charming political properties; they need no electioneering addresses,—Mr. Macdonald has, we believe, never issued one. Such common forms are neither required nor observed by the free and independent electors of those localities. In committing their opinions and their interests to his care, they are satisfied that Mr. Macdonald will truly represent both. Neither are they concerned if his political colors seem to forsake their neutral tints, and become, for the occasion, more determinately either “blue” or “buff.” This sort of party playfulness, they seem to regard rather as his affair than theirs, which he must settle with his and not their conscience, for it should not be forgotten that Mr. Macdonald has been returned by the same county, with equal enthusiasm, no matter whether he presented himself as a Conservative or a Reformer. His delighted countrymen may have listened to his opinions in Gaelic, and Mr. Macdonald may have expressed theirs in English; and making the usual allowance for translation, we have little doubt the rendering was equally complimentary to both parties.

The self-reliant disposition of his youth did not forsake Mr. Macdonald in his public career, for no one appears to have pursued a more independent course in Parliament. Elected in the year 1841 as the Conservative member for Glengarry, he found himself, in alliance with his party, voting with the French Canadian Opposition, with whom, however, the Hon. Mr. Baldwin then acted, against the government of the day. In 1843, Mr. Macdonald thought that unfair and illogical issues had been raised by Lord Metcalfe, in his quarrel with his administration; and he, therefore, determined to vindicate the ex-ministers and their opinions, and re-assert, on a question of responsible government, the supremacy of Parliament, whose rights and privileges have always been his special study and his special care. Thus, in the elections that followed, by upholding the principles on which the ministry resigned and vindicating the arguments that governed their resignation, Mr. Macdonald necessarily separated himself from the political friends with whom he had till then acted, and became thenceforward ostensibly associated with, though by no means an absolute member of, the Reform party.

In the month of December, 1849, on the resignation of Mr. Blake, the subject of our sketch was appointed Solicitor General for Upper Canada, and he thus became ministerially associated with statesmen whom, in the persons of Mr. Lafontaine and Mr. Baldwin, he respected and admired. That office he continued to fill until the 11th of November, 1851. By the retirement of the two gentlemen last named, the Honorable Mr. Hincks became Premier. In the administration which was then formed Mr. Macdonald should, according to ordinary usage, have been preferred to the office of Attorney General for Upper Canada, rendered vacant by Mr. Baldwin’s retirement. That he did not do so was, at the time, a subject of remark. By his refusal to join the new ministry, as well as by the appointment of the Honorable Mr. Richards as Attorney General, it became apparent that some slight had been shown to Mr. Macdonald; a slight, moreover, it was conjectured, that would be treasured and returned on some future day, according to that traditional Highland law which requires that a personal wrong must be requited with a personal penalty. The anger of the Thistle had been aroused; every thorn was pointed with retribution. The maple veneer of Mr. Macdonald’s actual nationality could not repress the force of his stronger hereditary nature. A slight had been received. It was contrary to Celtic tradition to tolerate a slight. Redress must be sought for, though in obtaining it the Canadian should be obliged to assume the garb of “Old Gaul.”

The time, however, had not yet arrived. Mr. Macdonald, like an expert sportsman, understood the value of reserving his shot, of not firing too soon. For the loss of one office, the government hoped to make amends by conferring another; and so, when Parliament assembled on the 19th of August, 1852, it was resolved, on the motion of the Honorable Mr. Hincks, that Mr. Sandfield Macdonald should take the Chair of the Assembly as Speaker. The distinguished office was accepted; but we venture to think the old affront was not forgotten in the new honor. In becoming Speaker of the Commons of Canada, Mr. Macdonald did not surrender his property in an acquired wrong,—perhaps it was gathering strength by slumber. It would awake some day to the hurt of the ministry which recommended, as well as to the annoyance of the governor who sanctioned it.

The latter piece of retribution was the first which the subject of our sketch was permitted to enjoy. Parliament had been prorogued on the 14th of June, 1853. It was not summoned to meet again until the 13th of June, 1854,—the latest day allowed by law. The discussions on the Address, in answer to the Speech from the throne, were of a very exciting description; and, on the division being taken, the ministry found themselves to be a serious minority.

An adverse vote on the Address, in answer to the Speech from the throne, we need scarcely observe, is equivalent to a “want of confidence vote.” The Honorable Mr. Hincks accepted the issue, but he declined to succumb. On the contrary, he immediately advised His Excellency, the Earl of Elgin, to prorogue Parliament, with a view to its immediate dissolution. This advice His Excellency was pleased to act on. The unlooked for proceeding on the part of the Governor General gave rise to a very grave constitutional question. The law provides that a session of Parliament must be held within periods not later than twelve months of one another; and Parliamentary usage has established, that to constitute a session one bill at least must be passed through all its stages by both Houses. The time limited by law had expired, but the practice required by usage had not been observed. The then Speaker, the subject of our sketch, by his keen parliamentary and constitutional knowledge, at once detected the very serious oversight, and he determined to avail himself of the relishing opportunity of vindicating an important point of British constitutional practice; and, at the same time, of administering a grave reproof to His Excellency the Governor General. Certainly the reprimand was clothed in language as courteous as it was severe, as guarded as it was well chosen. It will, we venture to think, always be creditably mentioned in the Constitutional History of the Province, for it is complimentary to Mr. Macdonald as a statesman, and it was especially complimentary to him as the Speaker of the Commons of Canada. It runs thus:

May it please Your Excellency

“It has been the immemorial custom of the Speaker of the Commons House of Parliament, to communicate to the throne the general result of the deliberations of the Assembly upon the principal objects which have employed the attention of Parliament during the period of their labors. It is not now part of my duty thus to address Your Excellency, inasmuch as there has been no act passed or judgment of Parliament obtained since we were honored by Your Excellency’s announcement of the cause of summoning the Parliament by your gracious Speech from the throne. The passing of an act through its several stages, according to the law and custom of Parliament (solemnly declared applicable to the Parliamentary proceedings of this Province, by a decision of the Legislative Assembly of 1841), is held to be necessary to constitute a session of Parliament. This we have been unable to accomplish, owing to the command which Your Excellency has laid upon us to meet you this day for the purpose of prorogation. At the same time, I feel called upon to assure Your Excellency, on the part of Her Majesty’s faithful Commons, that it is not from any want of respect to yourself, or to the august personage whom you represent in these Provinces, that no answer has been returned by the Legislative Assembly to your gracious Speech from the throne.”

Those who were present on the occasion will not easily forget the deep displeasure and annoyance that marked His Excellency’s countenance when listening to the Speaker’s address; nor will they fail to remember his Lordship’s motion of angry impatience when he found himself obliged to listen to the repetition in French of the reproof which had evidently galled him in English. Constitutional practice was avenged by the Representative of the Commons of Canada, and in discharging the higher duty, we may easily conjecture that a special gratification was afforded to the Thistle, and its moral, as exemplified in the character of the Honorable John Sandfield Macdonald.

One moiety of revenge had been gratified. One of the two stones had been slung, and with unerring precision too. The Governor General, who had sanctioned a public slight, had to submit to a public rebuke from the person whom he had slighted. The debt, however was only half discharged. The other half remained as a question to be settled with the minister who had counselled the slight. The occasion speedily arose when the adjustment should take place. In less than three months Parliament re-assembled, animated and exciting debates took place on the address in answer to the speech. On the division being called for, it was discovered that the government, of which Mr. Hincks was the leader, was in a minority of two. The adverse vote of Mr. Macdonald, added to a vote or two which he was supposed to influence, occasioned the catastrophe, and obliged Mr. Hincks to resign. The second stone was directed with fatal exactness. In the political overthrow of Mr. Hincks, the difference with Mr. Macdonald was by the latter regarded as settled. Enmity was buried, and friendship and goodwill seemed to arise from the grave.

There is, however, another side to Mr. Macdonald’s character. He is as persistently careful to reward a service as he is patient to punish a slight. Later in life, when he became Prime Minister, and had the opportunity, he did not fail to consider the claims of those to whom in some way or other he may have felt himself bound by the tie of friendship or the obligations of service. Thus regardless of all political considerations, and relinquishing his own right to the office, he recommended his early friends, Mr. McLean and Mr. Draper, to the highest situations in the gift of the Crown in Canada: both were at his instance promoted, one to be the Presiding Judge of the Court of Error and Appeal, and the other to be Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench for Upper Canada.

To return. In the year 1859, from various causes, but chiefly from impaired health, Mr. Macdonald found himself to be unequal to the representation of the large and populous county of Glengarry. He therefore relinquished the honor in favor of his brother, the present member, at the same time offering himself for the town and township of Cornwall, for which places he has since then sat in Parliament.

In 1858, on the formation of the Brown-Dorion administration, Mr. Macdonald accepted the office of Attorney General for Upper Canada. The ministry was short lived, but it existed long enough to be brought face to face with difficulties which could neither be avoided nor overcome. The disquieting perspective induced the further discovery that there were questions of general administration and of grave importance, on which Mr. Macdonald could not occupy common ground with the great Reform party of Western Canada. A political divergence very speedily took place between him and Mr. Brown, which appeared to result for the time being, in isolating the former as a public man.

Fortunately, Mr. Macdonald does not need the emoluments of office; and its honors, accompanied by the surrender of an opinion, would be in the highest degree irksome to him. Freedom of action and freedom of thought are equally essential to his happiness. He relishes the liberty of going where he likes, and of saying what he likes. With much respect for established usage, he has no dis-inclination to create precedents, or, to use his own phrase, “to make history.” Tolerably careless of public opinion, and responsible only to himself, he has never seemed anxious to make his political sentiments square with the sentiments of any particular political school. Thus, though an Upper Canadian by birth, and a liberal by profession, he has always opposed the reform dogma of representation by population. Again, though a Roman Catholic by faith, and one of the religious minority in Upper Canada, he has with equal earnestness set his face against separate schools. One opinion separates him from the ruling party of the Western, and the other from the ruling party of the Eastern, Province.

Political isolation, however, has not been altogether without compensating advantages. Mr. Macdonald’s moderation has attracted both sides of the house, causing his political adhesion to be an object of desire to both parties in Parliament. Though nominally attached to the Reform Party, the Conservatives have, we believe, on more than one occasion coquetted for his support. Nor is it easy to determine why he should not with equal consistency give his adhesion to either party, or accept office with one government as well as with another.

It was, we think, in 1862, that Mr. Macdonald playfully described himself as the Ishmael of Parliament, for his political hand seemed to be against every man. Practically his principles were of a negative order. His place seemed to be not only in “the cold shade of the opposition,” but in the very twilight of that shade; and though power and office appeared to be far removed from him, he was nevertheless content with his somewhat cheerless place, and found no uncomfortable solace in caressing his isolated opinions.

Neither attached to, nor influencing any political party, it was, we venture to think, a matter of some surprise to Mr. Macdonald, when, on the unlooked for defeat of the Cartier-Macdonald government, in 1862, he received His Excellency’s commands to form an administration. The duty, though beset with the greatest difficulties, was one he did not feel at liberty to decline. Separated by his own opinions from all the political sections, he could scarcely look for the cordial support of any. Whether under the circumstances an administration could be formed irrespective of either of the governing parties, and including recruits from both, was the problem Mr. Macdonald was selected to solve. The attempt was courageously made, but the temper of the Assembly would not tolerate the experiment. Indeed, in the fevered state of the Parliamentary pulse, surprise was occasioned that it was attended with even a partial success. A vote of want of confidence was taken on the 9th of May, 1863, when the ministry found itself to be in a minority of five. Whereupon His Excellency prorogued Parliament with a view to its immediate dissolution.

Before the elections, and for the purpose of strengthening his position, Mr. Macdonald determined on the hazardous experiment of reconstructing the administration. The change indeed was so sweeping, embracing two-thirds of the Cabinet, as to be almost equivalent to a new ministry. All the Lower Canada members of the Cabinet retired. The neutral “purple” which those gentlemen were supposed to represent, was replaced by the more determinately “rouge.” The gain, however, was not very apparent. On the contrary, the intermediate tint at once shrank away from the “red,” and gravitated towards its stronger parent the unadulterated “blue.” Another change, too, which the reconstruction involved was of an equally damaging description. A Cabinet may meet Parliament without an Englishman, a Scotsman, or a Welshman being included among its members, and the inhabitants of those ancient kingdoms will bear the omission with equinimity and fortitude; but let the experiment be made to the prejudice of the Emerald Isle, the offending minister may discover to his amazement that Irishmen will spring to their feet. Even the “green” and the “orange” will unite, and in the sacred name of St. Patrick enquire “the reason why?” The reconstructed Cabinet, unfortunately for Mr. Macdonald, did not when Parliament assembled include any member of Irish origin. The fact was at once regarded as a national affront, and from one end of the Province to the other there arose something more than a mutter about injustice to that sensitive people.

The appeal to the country did not add materially to the strength of the government. In the session that followed in the autumn of 1863, three different votes of want of confidence were taken, when the ministry was saved from defeat by majorities of two and three votes only. With parties in Parliament so evenly balanced, very little beneficial legislation could be carried on. The ministers were almost wholly occupied in the defence of their existence. Politically it was difficult alike to die or to live. Surrender, after such efforts to gain success, would be humiliation; to go on in the face of such formidable opposition was well nigh impossible. The only remaining course was to temporize, to gain time, and if possible to gain friends, to remove prejudice, to abate opposition, to conciliate confidence. The task was one of almost hopeless difficulty, but it was precisely one which Mr. Macdonald’s persistency of character prompted him to attempt.

In such straits a minister will possibly seek support from either, or both, of two classes of Representatives; from the member with an anxious conscience, or from the member with an easy one; from the member who is moved by moral, or from the member who is moved by material considerations. Different people estimate their responsibilities differently. One person, for example, regards his vote as a trust to be used for the benefit of others; another values it as a possession to be invested for his individual advantage. The tender conscience of the former undoubtedly is a troublesome quality for a minister to deal with, but the duty may be performed with a loss only of time and patience. The latter negotiation may involve him in transactions apparently necessary for the country, but not quite in harmony with the canon laws of conscience. The rule of right ought not to be a devious one; yet criticism is at fault, and judgment becomes hazy when applying such rule to the functions of government; for observation concurs with history in desiring rather to avoid than to discuss such stringent tests. It is not easy to draw a straight line over a jagged and uneven surface; and what is true in physics may, under certain circumstances, be true in morals. Exception may be taken to the casuistry of the sentiment, but not probably to the existence of the difficulties, for patriotism and conscience frequently play at cross purposes. A statesman charged with the responsibilities of power must, as a rule, make the means by which he governs subordinate to the end of government, and he alone must determine the trying question whether the end will justify the means. Things evil in themselves are often tolerated, because they secure communities or individuals from greater evils. To save its life, a nation sheds its blood. To save his honor, a man will sacrifice his possessions, and a statesman, as trustee for the State submits to a public loss to secure a public gain. The exceptionable means bear no proportion to the unexceptionable end, and thus the moral excellence of the greater makes us desirous of not seeing the moral worthlessness of the less. If it be allowed that means comparatively corrupt may be used to attain ends absolutely pure, then we reduce to a question of degree the practice which Bulwer indicates, when he puts into the mouth of Richelieu, who, to gain an ally, answers an objector by saying, “Tush! tell me not what I have done for him; tell me what he wants!”

It should not be forgotten that the more democratic a government becomes, the more costly it becomes. As it recedes from despotism, it rises in expense. The multiplication of rulers represents a multiplication of cost. Freedom and political enfranchisement being esteemed treasures, while they possess unquestionable value, represent a serious pecuniary outlay. Public men may be censured, and Parliaments abused,—it is the popular privilege to do both; but the question still remains, whether the evil is not in the system, since its root springs from the constituencies—in other words, from the people themselves. Government must be carried on, and the minister of the day can only fulfil his duty by using the means and the machinery which are placed at his disposal. This machinery may, in its moral aspect, be of gold or of pinchbeck, of brass or miry clay, honorable or base, still it is not of his choosing, it is especially furnished for the public service. The people, therefore, should, we think, take blame to themselves, rather than impute it to their rulers, if the latter are unable, by the severe laws of virtue, to direct instruments that are not severely virtuous. We must be content to receive popular government with its drawbacks as well as with its advantages.

Such reflections apply in a greater or less degree to all forms of Constitutional or Parliamentary government, but they may be considered as more directly applicable to cases where the ministry is sustained by narrow majorities only. To a high-minded statesman the position becomes in the last degree insupportable, for he may have to choose between the abandonment of measures of vital importance, and what may be unpleasantly termed the purchase of a vote. It appears to be one of the hard conditions of power that mean things should be done, in order that great things should be accomplished.

For nearly two years Mr. Macdonald remained at the head of the government, and during the whole period he had to struggle against almost insuperable difficulties. The vote on the second reading of the Militia Bill, by the rejection of which he succeeded to office, was an unfortunate vote; for while it misinterpreted the sentiment of the Canadian Parliament, it was injurious to the Province in the British Parliament. Again: at the time when the sympathies of the mother country were naturally chilled towards an administration whose existence was attributable to a vote inimical to her interests, and hurtful to her maternity, an uncomfortable correspondence sprung up with the sister Provinces, which seemed to be pointed with grave misconceptions. Thus the impression abroad was not in a high degree favorable, for the Parent State regarded the new ministry with suspicion, and the sister Provinces regarded it with distrust. Neither was it supported with local enthusiasm. The condition under which it was formed, and which occasioned the selection of Mr. Macdonald for Premier, had, it is true, the effect of silencing all the stereotyped “cries.” Mr. Macdonald is a Roman Catholic, and could not therefore sanction appeals to “broad Protestant principles.” He is an Upper Canadian, and is opposed to the Roman Catholic counter cry for separate schools. As a “Central Canadian,” he resists the extreme opinions of the Western and Eastern sections. With respect to the former, he is opposed to representation by population; and with respect to the latter he is equally opposed to the principle of absolute immobility. The old party “cries” had to be laid aside; but since “cries” are needed for electioneering purposes, some new ones had to be improvised. “Administrative reform” at first seemed to find favor, and the public servants suddenly became as it were not only the sport and by-word of the press, but game, whether fair or otherwise, for the attacks of those who are commonly regarded as their official defenders. In Parliament and in the public offices, politically and socially, at home and abroad, the administration entered on their work in the Ishmælitish style, which Mr. Macdonald had once described as his political condition. Another disability may be noted. Mr. Macdonald’s administration represented a great deal of political, but no administrative, experience. Whatever lessons of government had been learned, were learned in opposing government, and consequently Executive responsibility had formed no part of the course. Unquestionably the opposition in Parliament has suffered prejudice from having had little experience of power, and scarcely any of direct responsibility. Mr. Macdonald was, we believe, the only member of the re-constructed government who had held office for any considerable period, and even that office was subordinate, for he was not a member of the Executive Council. Under all the circumstances of the case, it seemed to be an act of great courage on the part of the subject of our sketch, to undertake the duty, and of great resolution to continue the struggle. The times were adverse and “out of joint.” The members on either side of the house were as obstinately immoveable, as they were distressingly equal in number. Mr. Macdonald was, numerically, as strong as his opponents. Could he win strength from them? He negotiated, and failed, and then resigned.

Since that time Mr. Macdonald’s position in Parliament has been passive. He gave no opposition to the principle of Confederation, though he may have dissented from some of the details of the scheme. His proceedings were regulated by the patriotic and statesmanlike desire to promote the interests of Canada. He has the consolation of knowing that in a very critical and embarrassing period he shrank from no labor and declined no duty, but did what he could to rule the Province; and though neither he, nor the country generally, may regard that period, or the transactions of that period, with unalloyed satisfaction, still, we venture to think, Mr. Macdonald has few personal reproaches to embarrass his conscience, and we unfeignedly believe that no political animosity has survived his official decease.


Citizens of all creeds and nationalities,—thus was the occasion described,—of every class and condition, the old, the vigorous, and the young, the representatives of three generations, attended the funeral of the Honorable George Moffatt, paid their last tribute of respect to his person, saw the quiet grave enclose its treasure, and turned silently away to reflect, it may have been, on the history of one, whom most men honored while living and mourned when dead,—to whom even death had been gentle, for it seems that he, the common ally of disease, pain, and anguish, was charged to touch his victim kindly, and only bid him cease to live.

Mr. Moffatt was not an ordinary man; had he been so, his death would have provoked less sorrow, and the class of working men who followed him in a body to his grave would not have sacrificed a day’s wages that they might attend his funeral. He was neither a public nor an official man, and yet public and official men attended publicly and officially with their staffs on the occasion of this interment. Like the late Sir Louis Lafontaine he was a representative man, and like him, too, had been for many years one of the chief exponents of the principles and opinions of a great political party in Lower Canada. Not however that it was wholly or even chiefly in his public character that men honored and respected him. The light within his own clear breast was reflected on those around him, and men were made to feel better by reason of their contact with him, and with the laws of honor and truth, the governing laws of his life, that seemed to rise naturally from the depths of his pure conscience. No taint or stain clouded either his political or commercial history. His policy in one case like his ventures in the other, may not in all instances have been equally wise, or equally successful, but whatever their issues may have been, whether publicly or privately advantageous, they were at all events loyally conceived, and honestly carried out.

Mr. Moffatt was born on the 15th of August, 1787, at Sidehead in Weredale, in the County of Durham, England. At an early age he arrived in Canada, making Montreal, which was then scarcely more than a trading post, the place of his abode. Attracted by that sort of adventurous commerce which was one especial feature of Canada trade, Mr. Moffatt found himself when a young man making periodical trading trips to the “Indian Country.” After having been connected in various capacities with different people, Mr. Moffatt formed a business co-partnership at Montreal, which from that period, 1811, has continued under different designations and some changes of style to the present time; Mr. Moffatt, however, always in this country retaining the premier place. Among the earlier events of his public life may be noticed his services to the Crown of England as a Militia Volunteer in the war of 1812, when he accompanied the force sent against the American General Wilkinson and was one of the escort which attended General Scott into Montreal after that officer had been made prisoner.

In 1831 he entered political life, having been, during the administration of the Right Honorable the Earl of Aylmer, called by Royal Mandamus to a seat in the Legislative Council of Lower Canada.

During the disputes which occurred between the Executive Government and the House of Assembly, Mr. Moffatt chose his part with the British inhabitants of Lower Canada, but as we have reason to believe, with no rancorous feeling against those who thought differently from himself. It is true, indeed, that party strife was embittered not only by the ordinary consideration of opposing principles, but by the more serious question of opposing races. One race would not own a superior, the other would not brook an equal; one was sustained by popular support, the other by Royal favor, while the body which prevented collision and acted, if we may so express it, as a “buffer” between the opposing forces, was the very body, the Legislative Council, to which Mr. Moffatt had just been appointed. On the death of the Honorable John Richardson, Mr. Moffatt became his successor as leader of the British party in that House. This particular mark of honor and confidence was no doubt due to his high character and his spotless name, as much as to the temper and wisdom that had marked his career.

The course of events hurried on apace. The angry discussions, which ere long were to result in acts of anger, could not be stayed. The line of separation between the rival races became more and more broadly marked. Dissolutions of Parliament made no change in the political character of the House of Assembly. In that body the British party was in point of numbers wholly powerless, and, in consequence, it sought by extraneous methods to assert an influence which the Constitution did not confer. Hence arose in the chief cities of the Provinces those undesirable political organizations termed “Constitutional Associations,” whose influence on public affairs was, however, at that particular juncture determined rather by the objects at which they aimed, than by the numbers of which they were composed. The House of Assembly, had in the year 1835, its paid advocate, in the House of Commons, in the person of Mr. Roebuck, at that time member for Bath. The Constitutional Associations during a part of that period, had in like manner, their agents and representatives in London.

The troubled incidents of the succeeding three years need not be enlarged upon in this place. It is enough to add that the subject of our sketch never wavered in the performance of what he believed to be his duty to the Crown of England and to Canada as a dependency of that Crown.

In the autumn of 1837, and in the spring of 1838, we find Mr. Moffatt in England the agent and unpaid representative of the British race in Canada, seeking for and obtaining official interviews on Provincial affairs, with the Prime Minister, with the Secretary of State for the Colonies, on the political state of the Provinces, and communicating by correspondence and otherwise with the Bishop of Exeter, and others, for the purpose of securing to the Protestants of Lower Canada permanent endowments for Colleges and Schools.

There is one incident of this period too characteristic and amusing to pass without notice. Mr. Moffatt had been requested by a distinguished Prelate of the American Episcopal Church to be the bearer of a book to the Duke of Wellington. On presenting the parcel at Apsley House the Duke’s servant declined to receive it; and to the chagrin of Mr. Moffatt’s messenger, and to the subsequent surprise of that gentleman himself, the book was returned by the person who took it. Certainly the army of scriveners, “fellows in foolscap with ink facings,” was not an admiration of “the Duke’s,” who thus characterized their work in his answer to Mr. Moffatt’s letter of expostulation.

“The Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to Mr. Moffatt, and has received his letter. The Duke regrets much that a Resolution which he has been under the necessity of making, to prevent his house becoming the depot of all the literary trash of the country, should have given Mr. Moffatt the trouble of writing to him.”

“He will send for the work in question to Messrs. Gillespie & Co., Gould Square. He begs to return his thanks to Mr. Moffatt.”

In the autumn of 1838 Mr. Moffatt, was by Sir John Colborne, appointed to the Special Council; and on the 4th of May following, in obedience to the Queen’s command, communicated by the Right Honorable the Marquis of Normandy, he was sworn in a member of the Executive Council.

Mr. Moffatt was a strenuous advocate of the act to re-unite the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada; and he neither spared time, labor, or expense in carrying out its provisions.

Mr. Moffatt’s opinion of public duty, as well as his sense of individual conduct, concurred in ruling his life in one characteristic particular. It seemed to be observed by him as a point of honor that a public man should never apply for personal distinctions; worth and service might attract favor, but they should not seek them. As a member of the Legislative Council of Lower Canada, and an earnest advocate of the measure for re-uniting the Provinces, Mr. Moffatt may fairly have supposed that his name would be submitted to Her Majesty for a seat in the Upper House of the United Province; whether or not he so thought, we have no means of deciding. All we know is that he acted irrespective of such considerations and that such action received the marked commendation of that very keen observer of character, the late Lord Sydenham. The truth is, Mr. Moffatt thought he could better serve the country in the Lower than in the Upper House. Therefore he sought for and obtained from the people among whom he resided and who knew him best, the honor of representing them in Parliament.

His Excellency the Governor General felt it to be due alike to himself and to Mr. Moffatt to lose no time in stating what, as the Queen’s Representative, his intentions had been.

Government House,

11th March, 1841.

My dear Sir,

I have just heard that you have yielded to the wishes of the meeting that was held to-day, and have consented to serve in the Assembly as Member for Montreal, if elected.

I believe that you are well aware that it was always my intention to propose to you to accept a seat in the Legislative Council; and in pursuance of it, I had already submitted your name for the Queen’s approval.

I cannot, however, but greatly rejoice at your determination of to-day. In either House your services must be most valuable to the public and the Province; but at this juncture they will be far more so in the Assembly than in the Council, to which there will be always an opportunity for you to retire when you find it desirable.

Believe me, my dear Sir,

Yours very sincerely,


Mr. Moffatt sat for Montreal till October, 1843, when on the proposal of the Government of the day to transfer the Capital from Kingston to that city, he felt he had a divided duty to perform, a duty which his keen sagacity and his high sense of honor enabled him most gracefully to discharge. Mr. Moffatt doubtless foresaw in the act of the day the germs of those evils which have since followed in its train. He knew the question that Parliament had undertaken to decide was one of prerogative, and he for one would not consent to put that prerogative into commission. He thought moreover to secure for the Union experiment an impartial trial it was necessary that the Seat of Government should be fixed in Upper Canada. Thus in what he conceived were the best interests of the country he declined to vote for the transfer of the Capital. As however it was a question that essentially affected the material prosperity of his constituents, he declined to vote against it. He might probably, there are many who would have done so, have withdrawn from the division, but this was just one of those test acts that try a man’s metal, and discover whether it has the true royal ring. Bowing to the Speaker, he left the House, and resigned his seat in Parliament. Mr. Moffatt was no casuist, when he saw his duty plainly marked, no consideration would cause him to swerve one hairsbreadth from its performance. His interests might fluctuate, but his principles were fixed, and the latter were to him both a compass and a chart. It is suggestive to note how two high-minded men understood and sympathized with one another. Lord Metcalfe, the then Governor-General, was touched at the homage paid by Mr. Moffatt at the shrine of public duty, and caused his sense of it to be communicated to him. Moreover, he sent for Mr. Moffatt to offer him a seat in the Legislative Council. The proposed honor was highly appreciated, but gracefully declined.

At the subsequent election in 1844, Mr. Moffatt was again returned for Montreal. The single aim of his public life was to serve the country. He had no personal ambition to gratify, office had no attraction for him, he was enabled on more than one occasion to decline its honors, and happily for him he did not need its emoluments.

After the dissolution of Parliament in 1847, Mr. Moffatt excused himself from again becoming a candidate for Legislative honors, and it is probable that but for one event he would have followed the inclination of his mind and have withdrawn wholly from public life. The unhappy excitement which followed the passing of the Rebellion Losses Bill in 1849, again had the effect, and for the last time of calling him from retirement. It was certainly a season of uncontrollable madness, and none better than the venerable President of the “British American League” could have restrained a large section of the people in their acts of unbridled folly. Leagues and Conventions and kindred combinations are as rules to be deprecated as contrivances beside the Constitution. Still they may have their uses, and one, and that not the least considerable, is, that they act as valves through which the heated steam of popular fever finds a safe if not a legitimate escape.

All the honors which the Crown, through its Representative in Canada, could confer on one of the foremost of men of the Province were bestowed on Mr. Moffatt. There were no higher political, militia, or social distinctions to grant than those which he enjoyed; and yet it is to be observed that he did not seem to regard them as a personal possession merely, which he was at liberty to value or depreciate at pleasure, but rather as a trust which he held from the Crown whose worth was not only estimable in itself, but was worthy of being held in esteem. Therefore it was when Lord Melbourne so far forgot his own high position as to speak sneeringly of the Legislative Council of Lower Canada, a body of gentlemen who held patents of precedence and titles of distinction if not of nobility from the Sovereigns of England; Mr. Moffatt, on behalf of his order, as well as in his own behalf, reminded the Premier that the objects of his sneer owed their distinctions to the gracious pleasure of the Queen, the fountain of honor; and therefore it was with acute pain he heard Her Majesty’s Prime Minister designate these gentlemen by a word of derision. Lord Melbourne was too high-minded a gentleman to withhold for one day the requisite apology which was accompanied with expressions of regret. Later in life Mr. Moffatt thought, as the representative of an order, he had received from a Governor General a social slight, and, in answer to a proper representation an explanation and apology were communicated in a note from the Private Secretary.

It is not necessary to mention the local honors that waited on Mr. Moffatt in the course of his residence in Montreal; for it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that if there were any such that cannot be historically associated with his name; it was because his sense of loyalty to other obligations constrained him to forego such favors.

We have said that Mr. Moffatt was a representative man; nor was he so in a political sense only; he belonged to a social type which, we fear, in Canada is rapidly fading away; he was one of a class which seemed pre-eminently to rule their lives and actions by the laws of right and duty, and by those laws alone; he was, for example, a loyal subject of the Queen, because, apart from sentiment and feeling, it was right and his duty to be so; he was in like manner a loyal son of the Church of England, and as such he could not do violence to his sense of right and duty by worshipping elsewhere than within her walls. Nevertheless, he was very charitable in his judgment of others. His conscientious mind caused him to interpret very tenderly the law of conscience as illustrated by his neighbor. He could judge no further; it was enough for him that such laws were illustrated in lives of consistency, honor, and duty.

We cannot close our sketch better than in the truthful words of the Montreal Gazette:—

“For very many years on occasions of any public meeting being held, at which Mr. Moffatt happened to be present, he was called to the chair, the public instinct pointing him out as the foremost citizen, to whom such honor naturally and of right belonged. The last occasion of this kind which we remember, was of an informal kind, but as it affords one trait of his character, it cannot be out of place here to allude to it. It happened about three weeks ago; and as this old and revered man opened the proceedings with a voice somewhat tremulous (plainly from the hand of time being upon him), he still showed how vigorous was his intellect, how strong his love for British freedom, how strong the wish with him that this country should continue to maintain its connection with the dear old flag. He would consent to the Alien Act if the Imperial Government deemed it for us a necessity, and desired that we should pass it; but its provisions were repugnant to his feelings, and they excited his anger. He was anxious that the union of the Provinces should take place, because he saw in that the consolidation of British strength in North America, as he had done in former years. And he found it a reproach to the manhood of this country, that we had given the mother country reasons to believe that we were lukewarm in aiding in our defence.”

“These were, we believe, the last political utterances of an ‘old man-eloquent,’ with, as the saying is, one foot in the grave. To us they came with a solemn and a thrilling force, although there was to us nothing new in their teaching. We have used the term ‘eloquent’ as applied to words spoken on a particular occasion. Yet Mr. Moffatt was far from being an eloquent man in the common acceptation. Men listened to him for what he had to say, not to have their ears tickled.”

“Mr. Moffatt was in his office, we believe, till six o’clock on Friday evening, and died on Saturday morning. Towards seven he felt unwell, and his physician was sent for. But his constitution could not rally, and his spirit took its departure without a pang. He fell asleep in death. He fell asleep at the last as those only can do who have sustained throughout a long life that highest and best character of either ancient or modern civilization—a Christian Gentleman.”

“He leaves behind him, as we have said, a stainless name; and this is one of the best heritages which a man can bequeath to his fellows. The Romans gave their heroes ‘of the corn land;’ it is well that we should give to our moral heroes, at the least, the meed of public gratitude; it is well that we should set their example on high. It is well men should see that wealth got by lying and cheating entitles the possessor to no respect; that place got by caballing and lying away the characters of others, confers no honor. It is well that men should see that the respect worth living for—a respect which all now pay to the memory of him who has taken his departure from among us, after going in and coming out among his fellows for two generations, can only be won by such a life as he has led. The tendency of too keen competition in America is to make men forget the simple maxims which guided Mr. Moffatt’s life; and society, therefore, suffers. In speaking of mercantile credit before Sir Robert Peel’s Committee, Lord Overstone, whose authority on this point is highest, stated that ‘character is the best form of security.’ In as far as the whiteness of Mr. Moffatt’s name and the honor in which he is held, shall lead our young men to walk in his footsteps, the good that his influence will yet do when he is laid in the dust, in this commercial community, will be beyond calculation.

——“Remember all, he spoke among you,

Who never sold the truth to save the hour,

Nor paltered with Eternal God for power.”


The year 1534 should be regarded by Canadians as possessing a more than usual share of historic interest. On the 20th of April of that year, Jacques Cartier, master mariner, by command of Francis the First, sailed from St. Malo on a voyage of adventure, and, after coasting the Gulf, he entered the River St. Lawrence, taking possession of the country in the name of his sovereign. On the 15th of August of the same year, Ignatius Loyola, with five others, secretly assembled together in the church of Montmartre at Paris, and, after receiving the holy sacrament, they assumed solemn vows, and became the illustrious founders and forerunners of the famous order of Jesus, whose members have covered the globe with the evidences of their earnest and self-denying labors. Thus was the year 1534 the point from which may be said to spring the civil and christian life of Canada. Jacques Cartier introduced the former; the disciples of Loyola initiated the latter. It is true, indeed, that Cartier the courageous mariner, and Loyola the Christian enthusiast, had long passed away ere their labors began to bear fruit in the more northern parts of America. Canada had been discovered and abandoned, and settled anew, before European colonization took permanent root. Three quarters of a century had well nigh elapsed from the discovery to the occupation of the country; for it is only at the beginning of the seventeenth century that we arrive at a new era in the history of the new Province, when the soldiers of the cross and the servants of the state worked together, the one to reclaim the moral, and the other the physical waste of “La Nouvelle France,” as Canada was then called.

One name, however, was likely to survive all the changes through which the country was about to pass, and that name belonged to the adventurous mariner of St. Malo. Though neglected by his sovereign, and it may be but slightly regarded by his nation, his name was destined to be embalmed in the history of a new world, and to be had in honor of those who claimed kindred with it in the old. The land discovered by their adventurous relative undoubtedly became the object of sacred admiration to his family. Though childless himself, there were nephews of his name who had dwelt beside the English Channel at St. Malo, or who had sniffed the Atlantic on the southern coast of Brittany or the adjoining province of Normandy, to whom the sea was a spell, and “countries beyond the sea” an attraction and a charm. Thus it was that the childless discoverer of Canada was destined to perpetuate his honored name by collateral channels; and thus it is that, after the lapse of more than three centuries, one of his name and race occupies a chief place in the civilization and statesmanship of the country with which that name is associated by adventure and discovery.

The Honorable George Etienne Cartier, the subject of our present sketch, is not only collaterally descended from the family of Jacques Cartier, the discoverer of Canada, but he appears also to inherit many of the moral qualities of his great prototype, and some of the physical characteristics which are said to mark the inhabitants of those five north-western Departments of France which were formerly included in the Dukedom of Brittany. Though rather below than above the medium height, Mr. Cartier possesses a singularly wiry and compact figure. There is, moreover, evident harmony and kinship between his body and his mind. In the former there is no superfluity of flesh, and in the latter there is no superfluity of repose, His sanguine, hopeful temperament appears to nourish, as with congenial diet, his well-knitted frame. Idleness is as foreign to his experience as it is to his taste. Occupation is with him enjoyment, no matter whether it springs from professional or social, from parliamentary or scientific pursuits; the more intellectually active, the more physically relishing it seems to be. Every phase of his character, every feature of his face, is eloquent with activity, and appears thoroughly to sympathize with his habit of irrepressible industry. The very hair of his head seems to be incapable of repose. It never assumes a recumbent posture. Its attitude is the soldierly one of attention; and no matter whether early or late, whether in rosy morning or in the dewy eve, in the glowing noontide or the weary midnight, it looks as sleepless and resolute as its owner. Mr. Cartier’s eyebrows are in like manner very expressive; they appear to be always on the qui vive, as if they belonged to one who had determined to see his way through the world. They not only appear to fulfil the common duty of aiding sight by shading the organs of vision, but they move with such sympathetic celerity that they might almost be suspected of possessing the sense of sight. In the massive formation of the lower part of his face may be detected the evidence of force and determination. The physiognomist may there see written in familiar characters the qualities of strength and tenacity, of indomitable resolution and undeniable pluck. Whatever effect speaking may have on others, it appears to have none on him. Having, for example, made a speech of six hours length in English, he is quite willing, if need be, to speak six hours more in French; and this is the more remarkable, as he speaks not only with his voice, but, it is scarcely an exaggeration to add, with every feature of his animated and expressive countenance. His manner is highly vivacious; he gesticulates a good deal, but such motion is chiefly confined to the active movements of his head. His voice is almost always pitched to a high key. It is unconscious of inflection. His arguments win their way, not because they are clothed in speech modulated or musical, but because they possess higher merit and are strongly put. We have said that Mr. Cartier’s speeches are remarked for their length. This peculiarity is not referred to as a merit. A regret, indeed, not unfrequently crosses the mind of the listener that so much that is worth remembering should be overlaid and obscured by the weight and redundancy of words. It is not easy to concentrate thought, neither is it easy to concentrate speech. Still it should not be forgotten that the vigor of the former is weakened and its edge blunted by the exuberance and repetition of the latter. There was truth in the excuse of the preacher who apologized for his long sermons by stating that he had not time to write short ones. It is probable, and for the same reason, that our public men have not time to make short speeches. Thought may, in its preparatory process, be compared to jelly, it requires to be concentrated and “boiled down” if we would present it in a form bright and adhesive, clothed in the strength as well as in the attraction of speech.

Observing, as we can hardly fail to do, how largely Mr. Cartier’s mind is controlled by hope, and how strongly his character is stimulated by energy and sustained by courage, we shall not be surprised to find that at the outset of his political career he not only keenly felt what he regarded as the wrongs of his race, but earnestly sympathized with that policy of amelioration and redress which the more ardent of his countrymen at that time proposed to adopt. Those views, though but remotely related to wisdom, were not inconsistent with boldness and courage; and since these qualities are especially attributable to Mr. Cartier now, it is small matter of surprise if they carried him to excess then.

The merits of Parliamentary Government need not be discussed in these pages. Still it should never be forgotten, when referring to the disputes which were brought to an issue in the troubled times of 1837-8, that “Government,” “according to the well understood wishes of the people as expressed through their representatives,” was, in Lower Canada, as well as in some of the other colonies, an unrelieved mockery. Parliamentary Government, as the phrase is now understood, had no existence. The voice of the people was patiently heard and politely disregarded. The representatives of the people were used but not trusted. They were positively members of the Assembly, but were without any positive power, except indeed the power of stopping the supplies. Representing four-fifths of the inhabitants of the Province, the majority were obliged to receive their laws from the minority, or exercise the negative privilege of going without laws by refusing to pass them. The channels of honor, if not blockaded as in England by oaths and tests uncomfortable to take and impossible to avoid, were nevertheless obstructed by shapes of evil in the forms of religious suspicion and political distrust. These intangible hindrances were bad enough in themselves. When, however, they seemed to grow into consistency, when the impediment to one office seemed to be ruled as a disqualification to all offices, then a conventional disability became a constitutional affront. The people learned not only that they possessed a Parliament to which power was refused, but that they were subjects of the crown from whom favors were generally withheld. Nor should it be lost sight of that this policy of exclusiveness and restriction in Canada was contemporaneous with the most violent agitation of modern times for the extension of popular and parliamentary powers in England. The discussions in and out of the House of Commons were not carried on in whispers, nor in candied words. On the contrary, men high in station seemed to forget themselves in the recollection of their real or their imaginary wrongs. Debate was governed by no conventional rules. Controversy was carried on by means and in language which had not the excuse of privilege, and scarcely possessed the sanction of law. It is probable that the arguments, and the means by which they were enforced, were studied elsewhere than in England. The reform fever, like other epidemics taking their rise in Europe, floated across the Atlantic and became contagious in America. The threat of physical force in England may have suggested a resort to physical force in Canada, and thus violent means came to be regarded as a serviceable auxiliary by those whose aim however, for the most part, was political amelioration and personal enfranchisement, and not national independence or territorial annexation to another State.

That the course pursued, as well as the reasons for that course, besides being treasonable, were deficient in wisdom and sagacity, is, we believe, generally allowed; but then it should be borne in mind that communities, like individuals, when beguiled by mischievous counsel, or when suffering from the pressure of actual pain, not unfrequently say and do foolish things. For the time being they may be, and generally are, sincere in their folly; and men, while they smile at the foolishness, are not indisposed to extend respect to the quality from which it springs, and especially when that quality is associated with personal courage and personal sacrifice. These conditions were not absent from the parts taken by the more ardent spirits in 1837-8, and they received marked illustrations in the course that was pursued by the subject of our sketch.

Again, while the majority in Lower Canada were taking the measures they deemed to be requisite to assert their political rights, the minority of the same Province were, with unslumbering activity, engaged in the revival of a counter project, which, by enacting sectional disabilities, was designed to perpetuate national exclusiveness. The project of repairing the mistake made by dividing the Province in 1791 was not lost sight of; the plan of a re-union of Upper and Lower Canada, which had accidentally miscarried in 1822, was not abandoned. The statesmen of Canada desired to correct the errors of the statesmen of England, and, therefore, the leaders of the British party in the Eastern Province advocated that measure with renewed energy, and with increased hopes of success. Nor, while insisting on the material advantages of such union did they affect to conceal the prime reason that controlled such advocacy. They wished directly to assert the political supremacy of the British race, and indirectly to secure the political abasement of the French one. The dividing line between the two races was so strongly drawn by these ardent advocates for “Union,” that the very word by which they expressed their purpose was pointed with irony, and meant, it is no exaggeration to affirm, precisely what it did not say; for while it aimed at the legislative incorporation of two Provinces, it provided for the political inequality of two peoples. Thus to one race it represented ascendency, to the other resistance. To neither did it express oneness, much less fusion. Such considerations as these very naturally excited an irritating influence on the minds of the people whom the measure itself was designed to prejudice, and gave, it is difficult to deny, the color of excuse to those violent proceedings which cast their baneful shadows on those unhappy times. The subject of our sketch was then very young, and, it may be, beset with the intemperate energy of youth. He was alike incapable of smothering his resentments, or of shrinking from the consequences of expressing them. As one of a chivalrous stock menaced with injury, he felt strongly, and, being fettered by no fears of which to take counsel, he acted as strongly as he felt. Consistency of conduct not unfrequently provokes respect, even when the conduct itself is the subject of criticism.

Passing over this particular period of unhappy excitement, and without staying to discuss the wisdom of those who at first sought to imperil the Union Act by opposing its provisions, we may observe that Mr. Cartier, for the space of eleven years, sought and found his “post of honor in a private station.” Selecting the city of Montreal as the place of his abode, he commenced the practice of the law. His clear intellect, his indomitable energy, and his unimpeachable integrity, attracted popular favor, and conciliated the respect of the Bench. Thus did Mr. Cartier win the confidence of many clients, and thus he never lost the favorable regard of the judges. His close application reacted with advantage on his energetic character, and both concurred in attracting and extending a lucrative and influential practice.

Had Mr. Cartier been content with mere local distinction, and the pecuniary emoluments which such distinction confers, he would quietly have appropriated the rewards that commonly wait upon professional success. But like his fast friend, the Honorable John A. Macdonald, he, too, was moved by a higher ambition. It was not enough for him to fill a chief place in the front ranks of the advocates before the local tribunals of his country. Neither was he satisfied with the multiplication of briefs that rose on his table, or the accumulation of retainers that sank into his purse. There was another arena which attracted his ambition, and a higher court for which his mind was being qualified, and in which he believed his services would shine. His intellectual affections were perceptibly returning to his earlier love. The fascination of political study, the allurements of power, the science of government, the patriotic desire to do good, reasserted in his mind their ancient ascendency. While pursuing the severe studies and laborious practice of his profession, he discerned the dawn of a brighter day to his race, and the assurance of a brighter future to his country. He had had leisure to examine the principles by which he had been early moved, to test their practical value, to reject what was worthless, and to purify what was worthy of being preserved. After the subsidence of passion, he acquired patience to weigh the inherent justice of British rule. Examination had taught him what he had deemed to be the wrongs of his race were more attributable to public policy, and the peculiar tone of public thought, than to local enmities or imperial distrustfulness. He would learn that the suspicions of zealous colonists were but the expressions of the prejudices of the age with respect to the Roman Catholic subjects of the Crown, and that such prejudices exerted the like influences on the Protestant mind of Lower Canada, as on the Protestant mind of the United Kingdom. He would learn, too, that when the instructions from the Colonial Minister were attuned to severity, it was not because the key note had been struck in Canada, but because it harmonized with the party music then popular at home. State papers, almost forgotten, now and then crept from their hiding-places which supplied to the impartial student a new reading to old records, a new interpretation to old transactions. By the light which such papers shed on past history Mr. Cartier would probably discover the evidences of consistency and harmony in the principles that guided Imperial policy, and that then, as now, the statesmen of England insisted on the duty of observing something like a uniform rule in dealing with questions of a uniform character. It consisted apparently with propriety and justice that the same class of subjects, for example, in Canada and Ireland, should not be ruled by a different class of laws. It is true indeed that the Province possessed guarantees which the Kingdom did not enjoy, still those guarantees related to subjects whose very names excited alarm, and towards which it was impolitic for English statesmen to express sentiments of even the coolest sympathy. In reviewing such facts, Mr. Cartier would probably discover a clue to much of the misunderstanding that had taken place, as well as to most of the exclusiveness that had been practised. Nor would he overlook the fact, that the Minister in England had not unfrequently restrained rather than encouraged the intolerance of the Minister in Canada; for while the latter had sometimes counselled suspicion, the former had displayed confidence. He would remember also that the representations of the Assembly of Lower Canada had not fallen unheeded on the British Parliament. English statesmen did not treat with indifference the petition of some 87,000 inhabitants of French Canada. Without attaching special weight to the reasons of the petition, the House of Commons did not turn with unconcern from the petition itself. Indeed, in the instance in question, the conclusion was arrived at that all was not right. The difficulty lay in discovering the exact wrongs that needed to be redressed, and the way to redress them. Nor was the discovery without difficulty, for it should be remembered that almost every avenue of official information in Canada was guarded by officers and civil servants of the state, representatives of the past policy of the Empire, whose habit of thought, whose social surroundings, whose national instincts and political opinions, were, if not inimical to, at least not in a high degree favorable to the class which complained of disabilities. Government wanted light direct and not light colored by the chemistry of colonial opinion. It wanted information, it wanted knowledge which could scarcely be arrived at through the ordinary channels of communication; therefore it was that unusual means were adopted to obtain what could not apparently be arrived at by the usual means. Commissioners of high repute were appointed to enquire into the alleged grievances, with a view to their redress. Without canvassing the merits of their report, Mr. Cartier would probably recognize in the appointment of such Commissioners an evidence of the earnest desire of the English Government to learn what was wrong and to do what was right. So also in the subsequent commissioning of the Earl of Durham for similar duties, Mr. Cartier would recognize additional evidence of the anxiety of England to act fairly by all classes in Canada. The report of the last-named Commission, though severely criticised by many, afforded a very uncomfortable insight into some points of Canadian misrule. It admitted the existence of irritating grievances; and, though it could not excuse, it suggested palliations for those who by violent means had sought to redress those grievances. It said enough, we may conjecture, to impress the home authorities with the opinion that their mode of administering the Government of Canada was far from blameless. Therefore, we may presume, it was that the statesmen of England lost no time and missed no opportunity in effacing by every means at their command, directly and indirectly, every mark and sign in their policy to which irritation could with any truth be attributed, to secure for the past, oblivion; for the future, impartial justice: in short, to inaugurate throughout the Colonial Empire a new and more liberal system of Colonial Government. Keen observers, like the subject of our sketch, would note this wish, and appreciate the magnanimity which prompted it. Moreover, the majesty of England having been sufficiently asserted in the summary vindication of law, it was inconsistent with the generosity of England that there should remain in the bitter cup of justice any dregs of vengeance. Pardon supplemented peace, and restitution and indemnity followed in the train; restitution of imperilled political privileges; restitution of forfeited personal rights; indemnity for personal losses; indemnity for property losses; were continuously counselled and were subsequently granted by the high-minded ministers, and representatives of that large-hearted parent, whom Canadians are wont to call the “Mother Country.”

If we may presume that such reflections occurred to Mr. Cartier, we must also bear in mind that contemporaneously with, and as if for the purpose of illustrating their truth, events of the greatest interests were in progress, whose successful issue would give shape and stability to the new system. Sir Louis Lafontaine, in conjunction with Mr. Baldwin, had determined to accept the Union Act as the charter of Canada, and, if practicable, to carry on the Government under the sanction of its provisions. Parliamentary Government was secured in fact as well as in form, and Responsible Government followed as a necessary corollary, but neither the specific grant or involved consequence included the inconvenient, and, we think, impracticable principle of ruling by sectional majorities in the same Legislature, which appeared to find qualified favor with Sir Louis Lafontaine. Perhaps this idea was enunciated as a temporary expedient only, to be used and laid aside when the governing privileges of the two races should be fairly adjusted and the patronage of the Crown bestowed according to some rule of proportion not at that time observed. No doubt Sir Louis, who evinced almost an Englishman’s taste for practical legislation, was anxious to interest his countrymen in the action of Government, by giving them a just share in the direction of its affairs, and perhaps it was, so to speak, to educate both sections of Canada to the duties of Government, that the Province, which had been united by statute, was divided for the purposes of administration. Each part, like a distinct school, though separately instructed, received the same lessons, and thus, through the ordeal of education, each might become adapted to the other, and both move in harmony towards the formation of one perfect and united whole.

Thus it may have been that historical facts and political speculations exerted in the mind of Mr. Cartier a conservative control, and added strength to his hope of making his own beloved Canada the nucleus and centre of monarchical power in America; for it should never be lost sight of that the blandishments of republicanism, though frequently exerted, have left no more abiding impression on the minds of the majority of his countrymen than they have done on his own.

At the general election which followed the resignation of the Government in 1848, Mr. Cartier emerged from retirement and offered himself as a candidate for his native County of Verchères, a county in which he was personally known, and with which his family from time immemorial had been connected by residence, and which, we may add, was at one time represented by his grandfather. He was not, as the result showed, without honor in his own county. Where he was best known, there he was most liked, for he was triumphantly returned as a member of the Assembly. It was complimentary to his capacity, as well as to the discernment of Government, that shortly after he became a member of the Assembly he was invited to accept office, and with it a seat in the Executive Council, and it was an early mark of his straightforward character that he declined the proffered honor, giving as his reason that he could not then afford to serve the State. The emoluments of office were at that time too inconsiderable to justify him in relinquishing the necessary and at the same time the more lucrative attractions of his profession. He had the manliness to express what many felt, and it is probable that his giving this as the reason for declining to serve the State very materially influenced the action of Parliament when it passed the Act to augment the salaries of the Advisers of the Crown in Canada.

In 1854, on motion of the Honorable Mr. Spence, seconded by the Honorable Mr. Lemieux, Mr. Cartier was proposed as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, but on a division being called for, the resolution was negatived by a majority of three. The personal defeat of Mr. Cartier was a political gain to the McNab-Taché Administration, for four months afterwards, in the month of January, 1855, the subject of our sketch accepted the office of Provincial Secretary with a seat in the Executive Council. He thus became a member of the coalition Government and a colleague of his friend the Honorable John A. Macdonald.

With the exception of two intervals, the one of six days, and the other of about twenty months, Mr. Cartier has continued in office from then till now. The first interruption was brought about by the adverse vote arrived at in the year 1858 on the Seat of Government question, followed by the succession to power for two days of the Brown-Dorion Administration. The sudden retirement of those gentlemen from office occasioned no surprise. The proceedings, however, which followed their retirement are, we are inclined to think, more regretted than forgotten. Uncomfortable subjects, like the transactions of the Ministerial Crisis in 1858, possess an awkward knack of fastening themselves on the memory. The very effort to dismiss them is attended with results the reverse of those for which the effort is made. A blemish, whether in morals or physics, whether on the face or in the character, possesses a sort of mischievous fascination; it will stand out, and the more effectually by reason of the contrasted whiteness on which “the spot” rests, or of the otherwise unchallenged purity which has been sullied with a stain. There are transactions in history and government, and the occasion in question is one of them, which we are unwilling to remember and unable to forget.

The second interruption to Mr. Cartier’s continuance in office arose on the defeat of the Militia Bill on the 20th of May, 1862, when the Sandfield Macdonald-Sicotte, and afterwards the Sandfield Macdonald-Dorion Administration succeeded to office. The history of those events is fresh in the recollection of all. Suffice it to say that within a period of twenty-one months the subject of our sketch again found himself called upon to form an Administration. This duty Mr. Cartier, for sufficient reasons, declined, adding the expression of his hope, as well as his strong recommendation that Sir E. P. Taché should be earnestly invited to undertake the task. Sir Etienne consented, and Mr. Cartier resumed his former post under the new Government, known as the Taché-Macdonald Administration, as Attorney-General for Lower Canada.

An expert athlete not only knows how to throw his antagonist, but he also knows, when occasion requires, how to control his own fall. Mr. Cartier, and the Government with which he was associated, seemed to be penetrated with a knowledge of this secret, for they displayed no inconsiderable sagacity in electing the occasions as well as in directing the manner of their defeat. The questions on which they fell were necessary, and of course questions of great Provincial interest. It, however, seemed either by a favoring accident or a clever design, that they should also be questions of serious gravity from an Imperial point of view. Thus in 1858, had not the Macdonald-Cartier Administration immediately recovered their places as His Excellency’s Advisers, it is probable that the press and people of England would have withheld all sympathy from their successors in office, because the manner of their succeeding would have been inseparably associated with a slight officially offered to the Queen in a matter of her prerogative. So also in 1862 the vote which negatived the second reading of the Militia Bill was very fairly construed as a proof of indifference to the claims of the Mother Country on the question of defence; and consequently the opinion of the Government and people of England was warmly expressed on the side of the defeated Government of Canada. The current of influence which thus set in from the European side of the Atlantic told with serious effect on the Administration that succeeded the Cartier-Macdonald Government. The science of politics, like the science of war, may, and perhaps does, include the consideration of the difficult question, how a battle should be lost, as well as the more easy one how a battle should be won. In the instance under review, with the exception of the temporary enjoyment of the spoils, the advantages of victory seemed to belong to the vanquished party.

We have said that Mr. Cartier joined the MacNab-Taché Government in January, 1855, as Provincial Secretary. On the retirement of the Hon. Mr. Drummond, in May, 1856, he succeeded to the office of Attorney-General for Lower Canada. This appointment, with the interruptions only which we have already noticed, Mr. Cartier has continued to fill from that period to the present day. From August, 1858, to May, 1862, he was also the First Minister of the Crown, the Government being designated as the Cartier-Macdonald Administration. On his assuming the post of leader of the Assembly, there was on the part of some of the members of that House a disposition to underrate Mr. Cartier’s great abilities, and to treat him as the nominal rather than the actual chief of the Administration. This course was unquestionably a double mistake: it was an error of taste, and an error of fact, which the Hon. John A. Macdonald, who knew well the intellectual qualities of his friend and chief, spared no pains to rebuke. Parliament had not at that time the opportunity of observing the character and qualities of Mr. Cartier’s statesmanship, the extent of his learning, or the breadth of his view. It did not know with what philosophical patience he had ransacked the treasure-house of history; with what severe justice he had examined past events, and examined them too, not only by the light of the present age, but also by the fairer light of contemporary times. It did not know with what patience he had studied constitutional law, or with what address he could direct constitutional practice. Time “the avenger” furnished unlooked for lessons. The flippant sneer gave place to thoughtful silence. Men ceased to laugh, and learned to praise. Surprise succeeded to levity as the courageous and self-reliant statesman, rising step by step to the height of the occasion and the argument, was found to be at all times equal to the most difficult duties as well as the most trying emergencies of Government.

There are, we venture to think, few public men, perhaps none other in Canada, who, within a period of scarcely more than nine years, can shew a similar service roll of duty done. We cannot pause to enumerate the measures of importance common to the whole Province, in the enactment of which Mr. Cartier took his proper share; nor shall we attempt to do more than glance at a few of those with which his name is directly associated, whose statutory operation is confined to Lower Canada, but whose beneficial influences extend far beyond the mere geographical boundaries of that section of the Province. Indeed they suffice for his fame.

And here it may not be out of place to mention what, indeed, has been apparent to the whole Province, namely, that from first to last Mr. Cartier has been perhaps the most earnest, as he has been the most energetic, advocate of the railway policy of the country. Before he entered Parliament, many may recollect with what fervour, in the Champ de Mars and elsewhere at Montreal, he advocated the cause of Railway extension; with what indomitable perseverance, on the floor of Parliament, he pressed the passage of the Bill which authorised the erection of “The Victoria Bridge”; a wonder alike of science and of art. How steadily he has combated the prejudices of his countrymen, and how boldly he ever proclaimed it to be his wish, as it is his pride, intimately to associate his name and fame with the extension of railways in Canada. The iron bands which bind the two Provinces together, and which may shortly receive further extension, he regards, we venture to think, with statesmanlike approbation, not only as the means of material progress, but as the means of social and political progress, directly tending to the greater intercourse of two peoples, and the ultimate fusion of two races.

When Mr. Cartier joined the MacNab-Taché Administration it very soon became apparent that he intended to give the State the advantage of his industry. Possessing great persistency of character, we may conjecture that he looked about inquiringly to discover in what way he could best gratify his appetite for work. The subject of Education appeared for the moment to be in need of a guardian, and though it was probably not a question with which Mr. Cartier was practically familiar, it seemed nevertheless to attract him, and he determined to master it. He did so, and on the strength of his newly acquired information, he brought in a Bill to make important changes in the school laws, to promote superior education, and to provide for the establishment of Normal Schools in Lower Canada. At the same time we find Mr. Cartier earnestly supporting Mr. Drummond in advocating that grand measure of amelioration, the Seigniorial Tenure Act, thus sharing with the latter gentleman the honor of passing that important measure. At a later period, after the retirement of Mr. Drummond, he supplemented it with laws necessary to its successful and final operation. When the subject of our sketch succeeded to the office of Attorney-General, the quality and extent of his industry were subjects of surprise and admiration. It was not enough for Mr. Cartier to deal with questions of law as they arose. Laws to promote the better administration of criminal justice; to diminish costs; to prevent delay; to secure the better treatment of juvenile offenders; to settle the law with respect to lands held in free and common soccage; to amend the judicature acts; to shorten and reduce the expenses of the sessions of Parliament; to prevent violence at elections in the large cities, and with this view to amend the election laws, as they applied to Quebec, Montreal, and Toronto; and to regulate matters of appeal and procedure. We repeat it was not enough for Mr. Cartier to attend to matters of social amelioration and legal repair as they arose. His comprehensive mind was not satisfied with mere isolated improvements. He was anxious to gather what was scattered, and systematize what he gathered; to preserve what was valuable, and to simplify what was preserved. With this object he collected in one act and amended the scattered municipal laws. He reconsidered the registration laws, and not only improved what were extant, but gave to Lower Canada the advantages of a system which, we venture to think, will be found to be replete with untold benefits. There was moreover one act of incalculable advantage, especially to the rural districts of this Province,—an act which had been for years importunately and vainly prayed for. The title, “An act to amend the judicature acts of Lower Canada,” very imperfectly conveys the idea of the sweeping change in the system which it introduced in the decentralization of the administration of justice and the re-division of Lower Canada into new districts for judicial purposes. Neither was it enough that he should simplify subjects by consolidating them, he desired in the public interests to divest the statute books of some of their difficulties by taking away what was redundant and superfluous, and collecting in one view all that remained in force. To this end he advised the appointment of a commission which has given to the public the advantage of its labors in the consolidation of the Provincial Statutes. Furthermore he took measures to secure the nomination of another and even more important commission for the codification of the laws of Lower Canada in civil matters and procedure. The results of both commissions are now in the possession of the public, who, we think, will not fail to associate them with Mr. Cartier’s name as works initiated by him, commenced, we believe, at his instance and concluded, we have reason to think, to his great satisfaction.

In the year 1864 Mr. Cartier took a prominent part as a delegate on the subject of the Confederation of the Provinces, and advocated his views with great ability in the subsequent session of 1865. Twice he has crossed the Atlantic to attend to the interests of Canada in England, and on both occasions he has been received with marked consideration by Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, as well as by the prominent statesmen of the empire.

In reviewing his character we may adventure the opinion that Mr. Cartier has a righteous man’s faith in the ultimate triumph of right. Though Justice is allowed to be mythologically blind as well as incontinently slow in her movements, it occasionally happens that the impartial goddess wholly forgets the vigilance due to her character, and failing to go forward, she sinks, without apparent provocation, into a state of perplexing oblivion—

“It often falls in course of common life

That right long time is overborne by wrong.”

Still, though the moment of awakening may linger, it will assuredly arrive, and with its arrival will come a time of vindication and adjustment. The policy, for example, of re-uniting the Provinces, as well as the act of re-union covered a design with respect to one of them which certainly had not the merit of being generous nor the advantage of seeming wise. The inhabitants of Lower Canada had, unhappily, put themselves out of court, and therefore had no voice in discussing that measure. Upper Canada being required and having the opportunity to offer advice, appeared to be chiefly anxious to burden her counsel with sectional conditions and selfish advantages; to be more rapacious than just; to dictate terms after the manner of a superior rather than suggest them in the style of an equal. The Nemesis, however, was near at hand to watch and perchance to smile at the awkward contrivances of those who sought to outwit time and subvert right. English Canada required for her security that, what may be compared to a bolt of steel, massive and immovable, and rivetted for further safety in the Parliament of England, should be drawn across the Union Act for the purpose of unalterably fixing the number of representatives to be returned from either Province in the Canadian Legislature. The bolt had lost none of its brightness when the mistake was discovered by the craftsmen who contrived it. The population of English Canada, which at the time of the Union was one third less than the population of French Canada, suddenly preponderated. Representation in accordance with such preponderance was selfishly longed for and impatiently demanded. The bolt, which had been forged at the instance of, and for the advantage of the English race, became the protection and safeguard of the French race. English Canada had thus overreached herself. She had stipulated for too much, and had thus multiplied, to her apparent disadvantage, those checks and guarantees which were suggested by sectional prejudice and adopted for national ascendency. French Canada, addressing English Canada, might have said: “The condition of which you complain was at your instance inserted to our detriment; it was contrived for your advantage, and it shall be continued for ours.” Now, though the legal argument was wholly on the side of those who appealed to the security of the Union Act, still there was a moral argument, springing rather from justice than from law, which received a favorable hearing in Mr. Cartier’s own court of conscience; and the result of the hearing was that the difficulty became one of the many reasons which induced him, on the formation of his administration in 1858, to announce among the objects to be arrived at “the expediency of a Federal Union of the British North American Provinces.” In furtherance of this policy, Mr. Cartier, in conjunction with the Honorable Messrs. Galt and Ross, a few months later, very earnestly pressed the subject on the attention of the Imperial Government. Though it seems paradoxical, it is nevertheless true, that for the period of seven years Mr. Cartier has on the question of Representation sedulously sought to relieve the British population from disabilities which had been imposed at their own request, and from the consequences of which they could not peaceably escape except by an act of generosity on the part of the French population whom they had striven to abase. The Honble. Mr. Brown, the earnest and eloquent advocate of representation according to population, on the 8th of February, 1865, very forcibly as well as somewhat amusingly stated the case as it then presented itself to his mind. “The scene,” remarked Mr. Brown, “presented by this chamber at this moment I venture to affirm has few parallels in history. One hundred years have passed away since these Provinces became by conquest part of the British empire. I speak in no boastful spirit. I desire not for a moment to excite a painful thought. What was then the fortune of even the brave French nation, might have been ours on that well fought field. I recall those olden times merely to mark the fact that here sit to-day the descendants of the victors and the vanquished in the fight of 1759, with all the differences of language, religion, and law and social habit, nearly as distinctly marked as they were a century ago. Here we sit to-day seeking amicably to find a remedy for constitutional evils, and injustice complained of—by the vanquished? No, Sir, but complained of by the conquerors! Here sit the representatives of the British population claiming justice, only justice; and here sit the representatives of the French population, discussing in the French tongue, whether we shall have it.”

Mr. Cartier has not only faith in justice as an abstract principle,—he has faith in it as a quality of universal application. He believes it to be the especial patrimony of no race, no class, and no creed. On the contrary, it is not only a sacred heritage but a common right, which it is the duty of a statesman to incorporate with his practice of government. The desire to be just gives tone to Mr. Cartier’s thoughts, brightness to his speech, and consistency to his action. There is, we feel, an underlying strength in equity and right, which gives stability to character and adds audacity to courage. Hence it is Mr. Cartier affects no concealment, and deprecates all reserve in the higher objects of his policy. His style of government is alike a proclamation and a challenge, for his aim is, and it consists with true greatness, to rule for a people and not for a tribe, for a community and not for a sect, for a nation and not for a race. He fills, we think, a foremost place in the front ranks of Canadian statesmen—he has assiduously co-operated to secure equal rights to all parties, and having attained these blessings in a separated form, his desire now is, and it seems to be the aim of an increasing party in Canada, of which Mr. Cartier may be regarded as the type and representative, to fuse and conciliate all races as well as all sections in one perfect and harmonious whole. Justice to each includes justice to all. Having secured justice to every one, Mr. Cartier now strives to secure safety to every one, and for this object to cement and perfect the union of all. The vision of a “fraternal era,” which rose before the mind of Sir E. P. Taché, which is the cherished figure in the Honorable D’Arcy McGee’s fervid fancy, appears to be ever present to the thoughts of Mr. Cartier. It is, we think, his habit to take a philosophical and patriotic view of the oneness of the human race, to recognise the identity of its origin, the continuity of its progress, and the unity of its end. His religious faith has taught him that while the earth is peopled with many families, those families are nevertheless of one blood. Diversity of type, like difference of expression, does not destroy the family relationship nor the responsibilities which that relationship entails. There are worth and excellence in all origins, and some truth in all systems. It should, therefore, be the business and duty of enlightened statesmanship, a duty which we think Mr. Cartier strives to fulfil, to collect and garner such qualities, and make them available to the strength, happiness and well-being of the State.

A modern French writer, with the ingenuity that characterizes French thought, has suggestively advanced the somewhat curious theory that nations, like individuals, may be divided according to sexual laws, and that these laws are as applicable to communities as they are to persons. By way of illustration, we select two of his examples—one from ancient and one from modern history. The Greeks and Romans in the earlier age, and the French and English in more recent times, are characterized as representative pairs. Ancient Greece and modern France represent the feminine, and ancient Rome and modern England the masculine types. The Greeks, the writer observes, were conspicuous, for the elegance of their taste and the refinement and luxury of their manners, while the Romans were remarkable for the more severe and less attractive virtues. In like manner, the writer observes, is the French nation conspicuous for its refinement, its polish, its elegance, its sensitiveness, its study of effect, its love of display, its passion for glory, and for all the pomp and circumstance, the dazzle and glare, the trappings and tinsel that usually wait on the gratification of that passion. The English, on the other hand, are remarkable for their indifference to other people’s opinions, for their insensibility to ridicule, and generally for the absence of those peculiarities that especially belong to the French race, as well as for the presence of some of those sterner qualities that marked the character of the ancient Romans. Without discussing the merits of an ingenious, and to us original, theory, we may perhaps, by way of convenience, be allowed to assume the accuracy of the view, and appropriate it to our present use. The writer in question, if we recollect aright, sought to establish the fact that both nations possessed characters separately attractive, but separately incomplete; that each required the qualifying conditions of the other, and that without such conditions neither could approach to perfection. If there be merit in the theory, it is not necessary for the inhabitants of Canada to travel beyond their own borders to discover the land wherein its worth may be fairly tried. There are, we incline to think, statesmen from both sections of Canada, including the subject of our sketch, who might fairly claim the advantage of such a political parentage, and who are patriotically seeking, in the judicious interchange of national thought, and the mutual cultivation of national virtues, to found a state which shall not be deficient in national character. It is not possible to read recent debates in the Canadian Parliament without observing how industriously the statesmen of both races are consulting the records of both nations, and bringing the results of their search to bear on passing events with a view to influence present as well as future times. We hear, for example, the subject of our sketch, from his place in Parliament, eloquently asserting the unrivalled excellence of the Criminal Law of England, and with equal warmth insisting on the unsurpassed value of the Civil Law of France; and no Member of that Assembly, whether Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Norman, expressed any doubt on the accuracy of the opinion.

Thus the literature and the laws of both countries have become Canadian possession, the special objects of pride and study to the descendants of both peoples. The great streams of English and French thought, the traditional lore as well as the written history of both nations, continue to flow into Canada. There may be a point, perchance it is now attained, when, like the rivers Ottawa and St. Lawrence at Montreal, these imaginary streams shall meet and melt into one another, and from whence, gathering strength in their united progress, they shall flow evermore onwards, in harmony and peace.


On the sixth of September, 1843, the Governors, the Principal, the Vice-principal, the Professors, the Lecturers, the Tutors, the Doctors, the Students, and many others, assembled in the newly erected building, and with imposing state and becoming ceremony, opened, for the serious business of education, the University of McGill College, Montreal.

Thirty years had elapsed since the Honorable James McGill, the benevolent founder of that University, had entered into his rest, and the like period had passed away since the friends and neighbors of that true-hearted gentleman, people who had observed his industry, praised his perseverance, and envied his success, learned from the revelations of his last will and testament, on what rock his ambition rested; how sedulously the upright merchant had striven to purify his gold by cleansing it of its dross, and to dignify commerce by making it the handmaid of philanthropy. They learned, too, how fair a monument may be built from the honest profits of honest trade, and with what undying verdure the memory of a good name may be preserved by associating it for ever with a good work.

Merchants dream dreams as well as poets, and see visions that are not necessarily colored with the hues of the counting-house. The advantage of such dreamers to a community is that their dream thoughts are not, as a matter of course, of a vagrant type, the naked offspring of penury, idle children of active brains,

“Begot of nothing but vain fantasy.”

On the contrary, they are dreams which the dreamer has the power to clothe in purple and fine linen, which move majestically between acquired wealth and elevated thought, which rise from the bank-book to the brain, taking, perhaps, in their miserable forms, the shape of quenchless avarice, chilling the heart and making the way of life weariness, and its end misery; or taking, in their joyous ones, the shapes of shining charity, warming the soul, raising each low and selfish wish, and prompting the dreamer in his tender waking to rule his life, and if he be wise, to rule his death in conformity with some clear and well defined system of benevolence. Many merchants in the city of Montreal have gathered greater wealth than was accumulated by the founder of McGill College, but none, we believe, have left a better or less perishable monument. With respect to the most of them, their names are forgotten, and their possessions are vanished away. If we are curious, and would learn who they were, we must

“Go to the dull church-yard, and see

 Their landmarks of mortality;

 See where their name is only found,

 By a small hillock on the ground.”

With respect to him, his monument will, we hope, become a joy for ever, active in its usefulness, and eloquent in its youth.

They were, however, trying times in which the University commenced its useful career. Few men were found willing to contribute to its success, while many were disposed to quarrel over the property. The spirit of charity was asleep, but the spirit of contention was awake. The clenched fist took the place of the open hand. Those who did not love their country well enough to “build for it a synagogue,” loved themselves sufficiently to aim at acquiring an interest in what another had built. They were greedy of gain and careless about right; more ready to disturb a possession than to create a possession; more willing to enter on another’s labors, than to sacrifice their own labors for others’ weal.

The history of McGill College endowment must be regarded a somewhat uncomfortable story. The aim of a will was, it is alleged, embarrassed by ingenious rather than honest doubts, while the intentions of the testator, there is reason to believe, were very questionably frustrated.

By those who knew him, and were supposed to represent his opinions, it was assumed, and not without reason, that Mr. McGill, in making provision for the foundation of a College, was moved by no original or exceptionable motives. He was a Christian gentleman of the old school, a devout member of the Anglican Church, and one who, by habit and inclination, was disposed to respect what custom and usage had established. Education in his day, was inseparably associated with religion, and it is fair, therefore, to presume that, had Mr. McGill intended to put asunder what was then always joined together, such intention would have found distinct, unequivocal expression in the words of his will. That will is not blemished by any such words. If, therefore, such intention existed in his mind, it must, we think, be sought for elsewhere than in the language of the instrument in which that mind found expression. Can it be found? The question will be deemed to be an idle one, but then the human mind will sometimes ask idle questions. This, however, is not the place to make the investigation. We have no wish to exhume the buried bones of the controversy. Indeed, the subject is merely referred to by way of suggestion, and to explain the reason why the authorities of the Anglican Church sought to administer the affairs of McGill College in the departments of divinity, and arts by means of an educational staff selected chiefly, if not wholly, from members of the united Church of England and Ireland.

That the duty undertaken by the Church dignitaries of that day was discharged with wisdom and prudence may very fairly be doubted. It is not possible to recall those times, or the discussions of those times, with any sentiment of satisfaction. The demon of strife seemed not only to invest but to possess the College. If it be true that “like attracts like,” then perhaps there was reason why the contentions within and without should act and react on each other, suggesting as well as provoking hostility. Argus-eyed nonconformity saw its advantage, and thus denominational combinations were brought to bear on the disputes. Reason disported herself in a raiment of loose logic. Men appeared to content themselves with the convenient conclusions which exactly fitted the result at which they wished to arrive. It was consolingly assumed that because certain intentions were not expressed in a certain instrument, that, therefore, those intentions were reprobated by that instrument. That such instrument must except what it did not include, and since religion was not expressly included, therefore religion was silently excepted. No doubt the whole question became tangled and blemished with strife and temper. Men wished to get rid of it and somewhat impatiently sought to cut the knot, the operation of cutting being much easier than the more troublesome one of unravelling. Of course it followed that the authorities of the Anglican Church became unpopular. In resisting what they deemed to be an effort to alienate property, they opposed the tide of public opinion, and for a season brought about the suspension of college work. Indeed the quiet duties of education could not be carried on in the presence of such contentions, and therefore many well-meaning persons were willing to accept peace at any price. Of the two evils which were probably present to their minds, those perplexed persons deemed it expedient to choose the least. Accepting issues of their own, they thought it wiser, that the Protestant Episcopal Church should forfeit a doubtful endowment, than that Protestants generally should lose the advantage of a University. Assuming then that there was reason for substituting the convenient law of expediency for the severer law of right, it was in the interests of the College, under the new formation, a matter for congratulation that the subject of our sketch was appointed to the office of Principal.

The new Principal, it may be observed, possessed the negative advantage of belonging to neither of the national churches, and his selection, therefore, provoked no enmity on the part of either of them. His negative qualification of “No Church,” became a positive advantage, for it disarmed ecclesiastical opposition and conciliated denominational favor; it secured peace to the Principal and rest to the College.

Dismissing the question whether or not the intentions of a benevolent man have been righteously regarded, as well as the question involved in it whether the great Protestant Church of Christendom has or has not been fairly dealt with, we rejoice to believe that a University which, whether rightly or wrongly, was shorn of its guarantees as a seminary for the diffusion of Christian education, does, for the present at least, enjoy the advantages of possessing in its Principal a Christian gentleman of earnest and sincere piety. The real value of all schemes of education depends more on the teacher than the system; and could we always be sure that the former would be well chosen, we might perhaps be content to be careless about the latter. Still it is difficult to forget that while the teacher must necessarily be changed, the system is intended to be permanent. The former is only a tenancy, while the latter is an entail. One depends on the righteousness of individual character, the other on the character of a righteous system. Happily for the University of McGill College, she enjoys, we venture to believe, in the person of Doctor Dawson, a Principal whose religious, moral, and intellectual qualifications are of a very high order, and these excellences add the purity of their charms to one who, in old English phrase, possesses “a goodly presence,” as well as a conciliatory and pleasing manner. To-day McGill College may be congratulated; “to-morrow”—the words are written in no spirit of irreverence—must take thought for itself, “for sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

The Principal of a University is necessarily a power in a State, unobtrusive it may be, but nevertheless a power in spite of its stillness. Many characters are formed by his teaching, many minds are moulded by his opinions: while the shape and quality of his thoughts, not unfrequently, give inclination and consistency to contemporary events, and go far towards making or destroying a State. It is almost impossible to exaggerate the influence of those who control the education of the country; and of course the higher the education the greater the influence of the teacher.

Filling the chief place in the chief Protestant University, in the chief commercial city of British America, Principal Dawson’s position and influence cannot very well be overrated, and it may therefore be excused if we indulge some laudable curiosity, and enquire who he is, whence he came, and what he has done?

We learn from a mass of printed pamphlets, as well as from works of more pretension, that Principal Dawson is by birth a Nova Scotian, for he was born at Pictou, and we are permitted to add on the 13th October, 1820. His parents, however, were of Scottish birth, and of good families; they possessed cultivated tastes, and had received a liberal education. Having resolved to relinquish his farm, and seek his fortune in the Colonies, it was natural that Mr. Dawson’s father, in leaving old Scotland, should be attracted to Nova Scotia. Names sometimes mean things, and it is therefore possible that the loyal Scotsman derived solace in the reflection that in separating himself from the land of his birth, he did not separate himself from the cherished name by which that land was called. There seems to have been a vein of poetry running through, and inseparable from, his habit of thought; his daily calling, for example, did not interrupt his literary tastes, or interfere with his enthusiastic love for nature, to the appreciation and study of which he directed the mind of his son, the subject of our sketch.

Principal Dawson received his early instruction at the Grammar School and College of Pictou, the latter being then considered second to no institution of the time in the Lower Provinces. He finished his education at the University of Edinburgh, where, as if he were the heir to his father’s tastes as well as to his name, he directed his attention chiefly to the study of natural history and practical chemistry.

The tastes thus acquired, Mr. Dawson was enabled to gratify when he returned to Nova Scotia. His father, who, besides being a person of some property, was engaged in a lucrative business, was naturally anxious to keep his only son at home. Nor was the latter disinclined to adopt the plan of life which had been prepared for him by his father. It possessed the double attraction of some occupation and a good deal of leisure, and thus time and opportunity were afforded for the pursuit of those natural history studies which had so thoroughly possessed his mind.

In 1842 a circumstance occurred that not only disturbed but changed the even tenor of Mr. Dawson’s life. Sir Charles Lyell arrived in Nova Scotia. At his request young Mr. Dawson accompanied him on his geological explorations. Reading the book of nature in its sterner characters was no uncongenial duty to one whose passion had previously led him to read it in its lighter ones. The new study seemed to bear early fruit, for we find that on the departure of Sir Charles Lyell, the subject of our sketch followed up the investigations of that distinguished geologist; and, by way of result, he forwarded to the Geological Society of London a paper on the lower carboniferous formations of Nova Scotia, which we believe, with the exception of some trifles during his college residence at Edinburgh, was his earliest scientific contribution to any literary society.

The fascinations of geological investigation excited on the mind of Mr. Dawson their usual influence. Several papers were from time to time prepared and published in the last-mentioned journal. The Government of his native Province about this time availed itself of his services, by instructing him to execute a geological survey of some of the coal fields of Nova Scotia. The report of this survey will be found in the journals of the Assembly. This official notice was not without its advantages. The explorer who is selected by a Government, is likely to receive attention from bodies less distinguished; and thus it was the authorities of Dalhousie College, Halifax, requested Mr. Dawson to give a course of lectures on natural history. Being delivered at the Capital, and being moreover well attended, they necessarily brought the lecturer into personal intercourse with the literary and scientific residents, as well as the official circle of that pleasant city. The charming gravity which characterises Principal Dawson’s manner now, very probably pervaded his manner then. It is not fanciful to suppose that it was then, as now, accompanied with the most perfect fluency of language, adding force to his speeches and grace to his conversation. He does not merely talk, he converses. It is a social gift of, comparatively speaking, rare excellence, which most men desire, but to which few attain. It is as much superior to mere chattering as music is to noise. Language with him seems to wait upon thought; and no matter whether the occasion be trivial or important, the right word always appears to be ready to fill the right place. Possessing acquired knowledge and the natural habit of clothing it aright, it occasioned no surprise that the Government officials of Nova Scotia at once recognized the person of whom they were at that time in special need. They, therefore, lost no time in prevailing on Mr. Dawson to accept the newly created office of Superintendent of Education. The duties were, it is true, foreign to his experience, and, moreover, he had no wish then to enter into public life. That he did not insist on his disinclination to undertake the duty, must in part be ascribed to his natural desire to be useful, and, if possible, to promote what is good. The offer was unquestionably flattering, and it became more so by reason of the political prominency of the gentlemen by whom it was made. He did accept it, and with it the task of putting in operation the new school act of that Province. The duty became a study, and its prosecution made him familiar with the educational systems of some of the adjoining States of the American Union, as well as with the more comprehensive school system of Upper Canada.

During the three years he was thus employed, he not only presented to Parliament as many annual reports, traversed the Province and delivered lectures innumerable, but he prepared many pamphlets, and especially published a work of marked merit and great utility on the improvement of agriculture in his native Province. Having fairly set the machinery of the new system in motion, and having, moreover, by the establishment of a Normal School, supplied what was lacking, he resigned the office in favor of his successor, the present incumbent. In the midst of these duties he collected the materials for his work on “Acadian Geology,” which was published in 1855. We may mention, too, that on a second visit of Sir Charles Lyell, Mr. Dawson explored with that eminent geologist the “South Joggins” section of Nova Scotia; and was solaced by discovering therein the first reptilian remains found in the live freestone of America. This semi-official connection with Sir Charles Lyell led to other and important consequences. He was introduced to Sir Edmund Head, the then Lieut. Governor of New Brunswick. The appreciative powers of that gifted gentleman enabled him to discover Mr. Dawson’s literary and scientific value. This introduction must be regarded as the first link in the chain of events which connected Mr. Dawson with the appointment he now fills. The truth is, Sir Edmund had made a personal discovery of great value, and he lost no time in turning it to account. King’s College, Fredericton, was out of condition. Preliminary investigation was necessary to its present repair and future management. A commission was appointed; and Mr. Dawson found himself associated therein with the Reverend Dr. Ryerson and the Honorable Messrs. Grey, Saunders, and Brown. Of the report itself it is not necessary for us to speak.

His Excellency Sir Edmund Head was promoted to the office of Governor General of British North America, and his residence was consequently transferred from Fredericton to the Canadian Seat of Government. To one so capable of giving advice, the Governors of McGill College appealed for counsel, when the duty devolved on them of selecting a Principal for that University, and the occasion afforded an opportunity to Sir Edmund of naming the subject of our sketch for that important office. The communication was, we believe, made by the Honorable Mr. Justice Day, and it was received by Mr. Dawson at Halifax, as he was about to embark for England. The letter was acknowledged, but the offer was not, we believe, accepted until after his arrival in the “old country.”

In these seasons of intercolonial courtesy, and with the prospect of more intercolonial intercourse, it is pleasing to note that the Principal of one of our prominent Universities represents a contribution made, so to speak, by Nova Scotia to Canada, the property of the former Province by birth, and of the latter by adoption. How thoroughly Principal Dawson has adapted himself to his new home and his new duties are matters of knowledge to many and of observation to all. Shunning notoriety for its own sake, he has found his pleasures in his duty,—to the fulfilment of which duty, all his energies, intellectual and physical, have, we believe, been unceasingly devoted. College work all day, and work enough too, such work as wayward youth may not intermit, such work as mature manhood must not leave undone; close, exacting, continuous work, such as a hurrying, progressive age requires to be done, and done speedily. The picture of a College master is not only a picture of continuous toil, but it is an illustration of strong contrasts. The gravity of authority and the levity of obedience meet together, the seriousness of age and the thoughtlessness of youth; combined work and solitary study are continually brought into juxtaposition. The earliest teacher must be an arduous teacher. His real conscience and the metaphorical rack will sometimes experience strange fellowship. Care and thought must in his mind keep familiar company. Education, as interpreted by him, must inseparably be associated with all instruction, whether physical or intellectual, moral or religious. It represents the business of a life, for it begins, or should begin, at the cradle, and ends only at the grave. The most perilous portion of these extreme periods is precisely that portion in which youth, wearing “its light and careless livery,” capricious as spring time, and bright as a May morning, becomes the charge and property of collegiate rule, the subject of College discipline, and we may add the plague and affliction of College masters. The subject of our sketch could not if he would, and would not if he could, treat lightly such grave responsibilities. The Principal, the tutors and the scholars, represent the three parts of one whole, the treble lines which converge to one thought, meet in one hope, and melt in one prayer that the University with which they are associated may be really, what it is described to be boastfully, a school of discipline, an abode of morals, a home of learning, a source of pride, not only to the English community of Lower Canada, but to all the inhabitants of British America.

The subject of natural history is, as we have already stated, a special attraction to Professor Dawson, and it is not, therefore, a matter of much surprise that he should have found himself sympathetically drawn towards those persons in the Montreal community who share alike his studies and his tastes. The wonder is that amidst such various and exacting duties he should have found leisure to attend to the affairs of the Natural History Society of Montreal, and to contribute interesting papers to its Journal, including one entitled, “the Air Breathers of the Coal Period in Nova Scotia.” And, as if it were not enough to minister pleasure and instruction to a locality, we find the Principal, we had almost said, stealing time to contribute papers of considerable length on geological, zoological, and botanical subjects to various scientific societies in London and elsewhere; and these papers, we may add, generally contain a large amount of original research, while one of them may be regarded, especially by Canadian geologists, as a kind of “Gold Medal” contribution, for it illustrates for the first time the existence of animal remains in the Laurentian rocks of Canada. This remarkable fossil, which is the subject of the pamphlet, has, by Sir William Logan, been named “Eozoön Canadense.” Such papers to the general reader will probably appear dry and unattractive. It is, however, a point in their favor that they are written in language so simple, and yet so exact as to fascinate ignorance, and go far to advance a mere neophyte into a scientific enthusiast.

In his earlier history, and for the advantage of his fellow-countrymen in Nova Scotia, Principal Dawson published a work on “Elementary Agriculture.” More recently he has issued another work on the same subject, but of a more advanced character, entitled “Scientific Agriculture.” The latter work has been adopted by the authorities, and has taken a place in the official series of Canadian School books. If it be true that he is a public benefactor who succeeds in teaching his countrymen how to grow two blades of grass where only one grew before, then a pedestal in reversion, and something else in possession, should, we think, be set apart for the author of these two works. Were their value experimentally tested and fairly applied; then would the heart of the husbandman have more reason to rejoice as he garnered the rewards of his labor, and “filled his barns with all manner of pleasant stores.”

But other and higher studies had engaged the attention of Principal Dawson. Lest in the deep sea of science faith should lose her anchorage and drift hopelessly amidst unfathomable waters, or helplessly towards the shoals and quicksands of infidelity—lest the Book of Nature should usurp undue authority and acquire the mastery of the Book of God, we find the subject of our sketch with earnest lowliness of mind calling back his thoughts, analysing principles, comparing and examining theories, and baptizing his conclusions afresh at the fountain of his faith. “There must”—we can imagine the Christian scholar to exclaim—“there must be affinity and relationship between Divine Philosophy and Natural Science. The literature of the depths beneath must articulate the language of the heavens above. There must be unison in the ascending and descending voices. Man may fail to hear aught, or falter in applying their speech, nevertheless the language of the sanctuary must not be silenced by the language of the rocks. The Revelation which informs him of “the beginning” must not be set aside by the discoveries which instruct him of the progress of time. The chronicle of creation must not be made void by the story of decay. The wisdom of God as revealed in his word must not be challenged by the power of God as disclosed in his works. Science must illustrate, and not subvert truth. Man may at present lack the ability to harmonize and reconcile facts which nevertheless are susceptible of harmony and reconciliation. He may see “only in part” through “a glass,” and as yet but “darkly,” yet the fervor of his faith should rise, and if he be instructed aright, will rise superior to the frailty of his reason. He may discern by the light of that indwelling spirit which the Creator has implanted, that knowledge was not given to extinguish faith. The messages of science are designed to establish and not to destroy the message of truth. The light which illumines the train of modern discovery would indeed be darkness if it should extinguish His revelation who is the source of light. The realms of nature would be peopled with evil if their study should disqualify the inquirer from investigating higher mysteries in the realms of grace. Such considerations as these may have prompted Principal Dawson to publish, in our estimation at all events, the most interesting of all his works. The subject of that work is unquestionably an old fashioned one, and perhaps this fact occurred to the author when he chose for its name an obsolete word. The Book is entitled “Archaia” or “Studies of the Cosmogony and Natural History of the Hebrew Scriptures.” It is dedicated to the Right Honorable Sir Edmund Walker Head in testimony, the writer adds, of “the most sincere respect and of gratitude for personal kindness.” The author, as we understand him, does not seek dogmatically to establish a scheme of reconciliation between Geology and the Scriptures. He has not allowed himself to be betrayed into an error in which we think he fell in an earlier pamphlet on the “Testimony of the Holy Scriptures respecting wine and strong drink,” of attempting to prove too much; on the contrary, his arguments are put suggestively, but with such force and satisfaction as enables him to deduce from the whole subject the critical summary “that the Bible has nothing to dread from the revelations of Geology, but much to hope in the way of elucidation of its meaning and confirmation of its truth.” On the contrary, it fears no investigation and declines no discussion. Indeed it courts both. “While science” says a modern Divine, the Royal preacher Hamilton, “is fatal to superstition, it is fortification to a Scriptural faith. The Bible is the bravest of books. Coming from God, and conscious of nothing but God’s truth, it awaits the progress of knowledge with calm serenity. It watches the antiquary ransacking among classic ruins, and rejoices in every model he discovers, and every inscription he deciphers, for from that rusty coin, or corroded marble, it expects nothing but confirmation of its own veracity. In the unlocking of an Egyptian hieroglyphic, or the unearthing of some ancient implement, it hails the resurrection of so many witnesses. With sparkling elation it follows the botanist as he scales Mount Lebanon, or the zoologist as he makes acquaintance with the beasts of the Syrian desert, or the traveller as he stumbles on a long lost Petra, or Nineveh, or Babylon. And from the march of time it fears no evil, but calmly abides the fulfilment of those prophecies and the forthcoming of those events with whose predicted story inspiration has already inscribed its page. It is not light but darkness which the Bible deprecates; and if men of piety were also men of science, and if men of science were to search the Scriptures, there would be more faith on the earth and also more philosophy.”

The subjects associated with Principal Dawson’s duties and history are alike interesting and instructive. We could willingly blot many a page with the crude ill-shapen thoughts which arise to our mind and grow about our sketch with a kind of ivy like verdure. But alas! in a very humble way we too have to deal with space, and being moved by the obligations which lie on us, our notings must be brought to a close. Before doing so, however, we must add that the name and fame of Principal Dawson are by no means confined to the British American Provinces. Besides being a graduate of Edinburgh, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society, of the Geological Society, of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of the American Philosophical Society. He is also an Honorary Member of the Botanical Society of Canada, and of the Natural History Society of New Brunswick; and as if these did not suffice, he is Corresponding Member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, as well as of the Natural History Society of Portland. The alphabet might almost consider itself aggrieved at the duty of supplying so many initial letters in the shape of tribute to one person’s name. There is still another honor which cannot be indicated by an initial, but which, as we happen to be acquainted with the fact, we may mention for the special benefit of our fair and curious readers. Principal Dawson is not a bachelor! During an eventful winter spent at Edinburgh he found time—it is his habit to find time for everything—to fall into captivity, and to marry Margaret, the daughter of G. Mercer, Esq., a resident of that famous city.


When wisdom and energy meet in the same person, we may fairly look for a career marked with sagacity, if not crowned with success. The truth is that those great qualities do not commonly dwell together. Not because they are foreign to one another in principle, but because they seem to be somewhat alien in their habits, and show little willingness to abide quietly in the same breast. Doubtless there is room, and the presence of both need not have the effect of making either uncomfortable. Reflection, which is the parent of wisdom, should precede action, just as science, which is the “perfection of genius,” should precede art. One enquires, the other applies. They are equally the necessary as well as the natural progenitors of great results. It is, however, to be observed in common life that prudence and enterprise, thrift and speculation, which are other names for the above mentioned properties, do not usually go hand in hand. Indeed they not unfrequently counteract and oppose one another. Sometimes, too, the mere reputation of possessing a certain quality is accepted for the quality itself. A man, for example, who has acquired a repute for wisdom will not unfrequently be content to sacrifice the quality rather than lose the reputation of possessing it. Such a person must necessarily be tattooed all over with caution. Rather than make a false step, such an one would persistently perform the “goose step.” Rather than go forward, he would contentedly “mark time,” and any advance on compulsion would speedily be arrested by the nervous command “as you were!” But on the other hand energy, without wisdom, must be regarded as an unquiet machine, which puffs and palpitates in a dangerous way, all rattle and no rest, excruciating in its progress, and explosive in its end. The inherent power which impels a person, and which we call energy, will be apt to expend itself in mischief, unless it be united to wisdom, and be made subject to its control. Thus, then, we may moralize that wisdom without action is little better than folly in disguise, and that action without wisdom is little better than mischief run mad.

The judicious combination of these qualities in the same person goes far towards the formation of the character, which in all the relations of life we seek for, and seek more often than we find. The master seeks for it in the servant. The bishop seeks for it in the priest. The prince seeks for it in the general. The nation seeks for it in the ruler; and the capitalist seeks for it in the trader. It is the type of that appreciated class which, in our English system, find congenial employment, and render good service; and whom, for the want of a better name, we designate “practical men,”—men who do not act in utter disregard of reason, or reason so closely that all action is reduced to a condition of paralysis.

The Honorable Mr. Ferrier is a representative of this serviceable class, and we think it will be found that he has, by private individuals and by public companies, by municipal corporations and by successive governments, been regarded as the repository of safe opinions and sound judgment. He has often been selected for the management of grave duties, under the full assurance that he would attempt nothing which overreached the measure of his ability to perform. The heathen maxim, “Know thyself!” is a maxim which Mr. Ferrier has studied elsewhere than in heathen temples. He has studied it, not only for his own advantage, but also for the advantage of the community in which he has lived. Therefore it has come to pass that his private ventures and public services have provoked few other feelings than those of respect and approval.

With the disadvantages of comparatively humble birth and only a common school education, Mr. Ferrier had the great good luck to be born on the north side of the Tweed, and we have the authority of Dr. Johnson for the opinion that much can be made of a Scotsman if “he is only caught young!” Mr. Ferrier paid the century the neat compliment of entering into the world in the first year of its history, on the 22nd October, 1800. Having been educated and brought up in one of the rural parishes of Fifeshire, he was sent at an early age to Perth, where he served his apprenticeship to commerce. On completing his indentures he sagaciously determined that new countries offered more inducements than old ones to those who, like himself, possessed little besides their youth, their character, and their talents. In 1821 he left Scotland for Canada. On arriving at Quebec, “that ancient capital” did not attract him, for he lost no time in pushing his way to Montreal, where, accepting suitable employment, he addressed himself to the business of practically studying the mysteries of Canadian trade. Eighteen months sufficed for this duty, for at the expiration of that time he felt himself strong enough to commence business on his own responsibility. At the very outset of his career we detect the evidence of sound judgment as well as of a self reliant character. To the surprise of his friends, he turned aside from the ordinary thoroughfares “where traffickers did congregate,” and rented a private house in Notre Dame Street, which he converted into a store. He not only saw his own way, but he also saw the direction which trade would take in the city. He was thus the first to commence business in a street in which, in that day, every house was a private dwelling, and at this day every house is a public store. He succeeded so well, that at the expiration of twelve years he was enabled to retire into private life, the possessor of a very enviable competency.

While he had been diligently engaged in making a fortune for himself, other people had been occupied in forming their opinion of him, and thus it was that the shrewd company of proprietors who were establishing the Bank of British North America in Canada, lost no time in requesting Mr. Ferrier to accept the office of director to that great moneyed institution, an appointment he still continues to fill. For the same reason, on the incorporation of the Montreal Assurance Company, he was elected president, an office he held for the space of six years.

Though conciliatory in his disposition and disposed naturally to live peaceably with all men, his principles of loyalty and duty were and are, immutably fixed. When the unhappy troubles of 1837-8 arose he had no hesitancy in choosing his part. There was no halting between two opinions, for he had but one. He shouldered his musket, and stood firmly then, as now, for his Queen and country, and consequently for British rule in Canada. Though we are somewhat anticipating the course of events, we may mention another illustration of this particular point of his character. Several years afterwards, when a Bill was introduced by his political leader and carried through the Legislative Assembly, for abolishing the right of appeal, in civil matters, to the Queen in Council, Mr. Ferrier did not hesitate to oppose it in the Upper House of Parliament, and with such success as to cause its defeat. He regarded the measure as inimicable to British usage, and destructive of one of the cherished rights of a British subject. In utter disregard of the quarter whence it proceeded, he judged it on its merits, and on his motion the Legislative Council rejected the Bill.

In 1841 Mr. Ferrier was appointed one of the members of the Municipal Council of the city of Montreal, where he found congenial occupation in promoting the improvements of the city. As Chairman of the Fire Committee he was enabled to initiate measures for the better security of the persons and property of the inhabitants. In 1844 when the Council became elective he was returned as Alderman for the East Ward, which is noteworthy, as it shewed the esteem in which he was held by the inhabitants of that section of the city, who were almost exclusively of French Canadian origin. In 1845 he was elected Mayor of Montreal.

When filling the office of Mayor he had occasion to visit Quebec, and thus it chanced that he was present when the terrible fire occurred which laid in ashes the whole of the populous suburb of St. Roch. Such a calamity was enough to touch any heart. It stirred Mr. Ferrier’s to its utmost depths. He returned to Montreal occupied only with one thought. He had no difficulty in determining what ought to be done. He was only perplexed as to the mode of doing it. He waited on the then Governor General, the liberal and large-hearted Lord Metcalfe. It was not difficult for two generous men to understand one another. One had witnessed the homeless misery of ten thousand people, the other could feel for the wretchedness though he had been spared the sight of it. With Lord Metcalfe sympathy did not evaporate in words or waste itself away in unavailing tears. The Governor and the Mayor agreed that something should be done, and at once. One of the most remarkable relief funds of modern times was commenced then, and there, Lord Metcalfe heading the subscription list with a contribution of $2000. Thus encouraged, the Mayor, in his own energetic way, immediately took the course of wisdom. Having obtained the use of the Commons House of Assembly for the purpose, he convened a public meeting. He there made a simple, straightforward statement of the miseries he had seen. No fiction colored his representation,—fancy painting was unnecessary,—the calamity was of too stern a character to need decorative art. Suffice it to say, that he managed his own duties and the people present so admirably, as to secure before he left the Chair, subscriptions to the amount of $40,000.

In 1846 during the discussion of the Oregon question, Mr. Ferrier received his commission of Lieut.-Colonel in the Militia. Recognizing the fact that the gracious favor of the Sovereign should be acknowledged by the active fealty of the subject, he immediately set to work to recover an influence which, as it turned out, he had never lost. Having received authority to that effect, Mr. Ferrier called a meeting of the Firemen of Montreal, who, at his request, enrolled themselves under his command as a volunteer regiment of 700 strong. For many years this regiment continued to be in a highly effective state of discipline, satisfied with themselves, which is not surprising, but, what was more to the point, satisfied with their Commander also.

In 1847 Mr. Ferrier was called by royal mandamus to a seat in the Honorable the Legislative Council, in the proceedings of which body he has always taken a very active part. His value as a member of select or standing Committees has, we believe, passed into a proverb; in such cases and on such occasions his manifold experiences are said to be of great practical value.

In the year 1845 Mr. Ferrier was appointed a member of the Board of the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning. It was about this time that from various untoward causes the affairs of McGill College, as well as the College itself, entered upon a phase of serious embarrassment. Education was suspended, and we hope we do not state what is incorrect by adding that payment was suspended too. Matters were seriously complicated from the absence of harmony among the teachers and the absence of money in the chest. In fact, there was an educational and financial crisis. Clamor in the College, clamor in the newspapers, clamor in the streets, ubiquitous clamor and illusive cash. To silence the one and provide the other the Government of the day issued a commission under the Great Seal, and appointed the subject of our sketch to the office of Chairman. They imposed no restriction, for they felt persuaded that the object of their choice would avoid the theological and academical, and only deal with the financial and property difficulties into which the College had drifted. Acting on the maxim that to make an institution healthy you must first make it prosperous, and to make it prosperous you must secure for it a revenue, Mr. Ferrier and the gentlemen who were associated with him went heartily to work, and, by husbanding the resources and profitably disposing of the property, they managed to pay the debts of the College and help it materially towards its present useful and efficient state. In aiding the College they had the opportunity of selling the “Burnside property,” which had been comparatively an unremunerative burden to the institution, as well as an obstinate barrier to the extension of the city. When the inhabitants of Montreal talk complacently of the westerly progress of the “commercial capital,” they would do well to supplement their observations with the question, “to whose sagacity are we chiefly indebted for this beneficial result?” They need not, we incline to think, enquire far to find a personal answer to the general question.

Mr. Ferrier appears not only to know what duty to accept, but—and it is a greater evidence of self-knowledge—he knows also what duty to decline. He has the gift so idly prayed for by his countryman—

“Of seeing himself as others see him!”

and consequently he escapes the discomfort of being seen to disadvantage. Subjects, for instance, of finance and property management, are subjects with which he is experimentally as well as theoretically acquainted. There is, therefore, no presumption in his undertaking, to use his own masculine figure of speech, to “grapple with them.” Having, by good management and great industry, overcome the financial and property difficulties of McGill College, and raised the institution from a very depressed condition, to a condition sufficiently prosperous to justify a vigorous prosecution of the work of education, Mr. Ferrier found himself suddenly required to deal with a new question, which, with great honesty of mind, he declined to approach. The new college work required for its performance new college masters. These masters were to be chosen by the board of which Mr. Ferrier was the chairman. From the responsibility of this duty Mr. Ferrier sought to be relieved; the natural frankness of his disposition prompting him to plead inexperience as a reason for declining responsibility. As, however, he did not desire to separate himself from the interests of the College, Mr. Ferrier suggested to Government the expediency of appointing the Honorable Mr. Justice Day to the position he desired to vacate, and allow him—Mr. Ferrier—to assume a subordinate, and, at the same time, more laborious as well as a less distinguished, position, his sole wish being “to serve.” High principle possesses a fixed value of its own, irrespective of rank and station. History has marked, with especial approval, occasions where individuals have sacrificed privilege to service, or have made their own interests subordinate to those of the commonwealth. The royal cypher, “Ich Dien,” is the text of a narrative which we would on no account lose. Yet it cannot be doubted that the history it preserves is chiefly instructive because it shews in what way rank was exalted by abasement, and how it is that the highest distinctions may consist with the lowliest service; for in the words of the wise king, “Before honor is humility.”

Humility and its opposite, pride; though not always transparent qualities, are frequently found to exist in great purity where they are least expected. In their higher types they choose a condition of retirement, and only permit themselves to be observed on special occasions. The former is a virtue which is constitutionally averse to exposure. The latter is a weapon which courts privacy, and is only to be discovered on provocation. With the travesties of these qualities we have nothing to do. The humility, for example, which is happy to be a worm, and to prove it by a text, is only a loathsome form of moral degradation which has vanity for its root. And the vanity which sprouts out of and spreads over the characters of weak men like a fungus, is as foreign to pride as it is to virtue. There are swarms of sickening satires on all excellencies; our business is only to appropriate what is pure.

Mr. Ferrier may, in all probability, possess a fair share of pride. Ill-bred persons may discover its existence, just as curious ones may find out whether a bee has a sting. We have had occasion to refer to Mr. Ferrier’s humility of mind, which is instructively graceful, since it informs us how men may acquire honor by declining honors.

But neither pride nor humility are the conspicuous traits of Mr. Ferrier’s character. Both would, as one did, appear should occasion call for them; but they are not the marks by which he is best recognized. The casual observer would note his activity and energy of character, the raciness of his disposition and the quickness of his thought; for Mr. Ferrier is as sharp and as bright as a surgeon’s lancet. But it must be remarked that his quickness is the quickness of knowledge, and not the quickness of rashness. He is only sharp when he thinks he is sure. He is only bold when he believes himself to be right. He neither affects knowledge nor ignorance; for he is alike candid in either case. He honestly declines to express opinions on subjects he does not affect to understand; and, with the like honesty, he refuses to act when he is not instructed in the principles which should govern action. Thus in his connection with McGill College, he heartily undertook duties which he understood, and as heartily declined duties of which he had no experience.

Bright and cheerful in temperament, Mr. Ferrier is frank and outspoken by habit and inclination. His political friends and his political opponents know exactly where they will find him. Generous himself, his conduct is marked by generosity to others. Successful in his own career, he is without jealousy at the success of others; and appears always willing to stretch a helping hand to the struggler. Hopeful and sanguine, he never desponds when other people despair. He prefers the telescope to the microscope; for it is more congenial to his mind to behold glories in the distance than to see difficulties on the spot. Therefore it is, that through good report and through evil report, through storm and shine, he has been an earnest, ardent advocate of what is called the railway policy of the country. Before the great lines of communication were undertaken as matters of national concern, he initiated a small line as a matter of local interest. The Montreal and Lachine Railway was, we believe, projected by him; and, we may add, that it was carried out under his direction with such energy and success, that within seven months after its commencement it was reported to be ready for use. Again, at the most critical period in the history of the Grand Trunk Railway Company, he was elected to be one of the directors. If in his new position he found congenial employment, he also discovered occupation of a most exacting and responsible kind. Were it proper to pry into the history of his management of the affairs of that Company, we are inclined to think that our impression of the importance of his services would be abundantly confirmed. That the Company set a high value on them, may be inferred from the fact, that Mr. Ferrier is now the chairman of the Canada board. Tact and management are best seen in emergencies. Steadiness and ability are better tested in the crisis of difficulty than during the current of success.

No doubt Mr. Ferrier has certain fixed views on public policy—still we incline to think those views are more general than precise. He would, we suppose, be accounted a party man, and yet he is not so, in the extreme sense of the term. It would be distasteful to him to vote from the “cross benches” because he would not like to censure his political friends by his act. Still, if the question clearly lay between the claims of his conscience and the claims of his party, the former, at all events, would not be stained by his default. Mr. Ferrier, like most of the members of the Legislative Council, has, we think, no personal ambition to gratify. He is indifferent to office, and only cares about power as a means to an end, the end being the advancement of the Province in virtue, wealth, and fame. He believes that these great objects can be arrived at by union among ourselves, by union with our fellow-colonists of the Lower Provinces, and above all, by indissoluble union with the Mother Country. Loyalty to the British Crown is with Mr. Ferrier not only a pleasing sentiment but a fixed opinion, an opinion deliberately and thoughtfully arrived at—the result alike of observation and comparison. In the debate in the Legislative Council on Confederation, Mr. Ferrier is reported touchingly and eloquently to have said, that when he came of age he chose Canada for his country,—we quote his words: “I have now lived in it, (Canada) for forty-four years. I have been identified with the progress of its institutions, of those, at any rate, of Lower Canada, and particularly of Montreal * * * I have, during those years, also travelled over a large part of Europe. I have travelled, too, over parts of Asia and Africa. I have seen people under monarchical governments, some of them tolerably prosperous, others of them less so. I have seen people under despotic governments, some of them pretty comfortable, others crushed down to the lowest depths of slavery. I have seen republican governments in Europe, and of course I have seen the great republic on this Continent. I have seen people, too, living under the government of the Church. But I have seen no people like those living under the government of Great Britain, or enjoying such perfect freedom and such complete protection for life and property, as those living under the Flag of Old England.” No wonder the members of that high minded Council are reported to have cried in this place “hear, hear.” There is a hearty crispness about the words which made them relishing, and they were spoken too, by one who “knew whereof he affirmed.” Mr. Ferrier clenched his confession of experience with the manly avowal,—we again quote his words: “Had I my choice to make to-day after an experience of forty-four years, I should still choose Canada as my home.”

If Mr. Ferrier has not exactly

            “With expansive view

Survey’d mankind, from China to Peru,”

he appears to have missed no opportunity of seeing a good deal of the world and its inhabitants. Nor does it appear that he travelled merely for personal gratification. He saw much, and made notes of what he saw, and having stamped those notes in the mint of his own mind, he gave them circulation among his friends in his return to Canada. He enjoyed as well as saw, for constitutionally he has no disposition to be miserable. But new scenes and fresh delights did not, apparently, disturb the direction of his thoughts. Attracted by the magnetic influence of Canada, they always pointed to Montreal. Like Goldsmith’s traveller, he might have said—

“Where’er I roam, whatever realms to see,

My heart untravell’d fondly turns to thee.”

His homeward bound thoughts took a practical as well as a poetical turn. As a tourist in the East, he remembered amidst his festival of observation his friends in the West, and he determined with characteristic generosity to carry back with him souvenirs of the lands he had seen. The list of relics from Egypt, given by Mr. Ferrier to the Natural History Society of Montreal, would fill several pages of our work, and cannot be inserted here. Among those gifts are mummies and portions of mummies, as well as fossilized crocodiles. We wonder whether the latter long-headed things sagely considered the Sphinx when it was young, or winked with wanton familiarity at the workmen on the Pyramids! We are afraid that in his zeal for Montreal, Mr. Ferrier must have practiced a little contraband business in Egypt. If our impression be correct, mummies, like gunpowder in disturbed times, are prohibited by the Pasha as articles of exportation. But notwithstanding the prohibition, Mr. Ferrier did, we suppose, not only bring his western energy to bear on eastern taciturnity, but he must also, with much sagacity, have found a member of the Egyptian opposition in the person of a Custom House officer, who did not approve of the Pasha’s policy of protection. This Janizary free-trader, through whose intervention the little transaction was arranged, must have been judiciously managed, for the interdicted exports arrived safely at Montreal, much to the satisfaction of the giver and the Society which received the gift.

One who is always thinking kindly of his friends and neighbors, will be apt to be remembered kindly by them; therefore, as well as for his personal fitness, Mr. Ferrier has on different occasions been elected President of the St. Andrew’s Society of Montreal. He has also, but for higher reasons, been elected President of several of the religious societies of Montreal, which are connected with various denominations of Protestants.

We have expressed the opinion, that Mr. Ferrier is a very fair representative of that large class of quiet people whose evenly balanced minds, and lives of steady useful service, have won for them the designation of “practical men.” Such persons being moved by high considerations as well as ordinary laws,—by the desire to do good moral work as well as good material work,—by the hope to promote the higher objects of our creation as well as the every-day interests of life, will scarcely be able to carry on their good deeds by stealth. They will miss the retirement they court; for we shall assuredly catch glimpses of them in the byways of benevolence. We shall see how deftly they suit action to need, with what felicity of touch they not only do well, but do good. The person who may not possess the “gift of tongues,” by which man is moved, may, nevertheless, be endowed with the grace of charity by which children are attracted. And this endowment is a double blessing: it is wealth alike to the owner and the object. To the former it is fruitful in happiness; to the latter it is fruitful in benefit. It peoples the path of one with bright, white-winged thoughts, born of innocence and youth,—thoughts which take note of the lives, and devise plans for the happiness of children. It moves from the path of the other the stones and stumbling blocks that might otherwise hurt the youthful traveller. Mr. Ferrier has, we believe, from the period of his first arrival in Canada, assiduously labored for the happiness of youth. What was commenced from a sense of duty, has been continued from feelings of delight. For forty-five years he has been the earnest advocate of Sunday-schools, as well as a diligent teacher of Sunday-school children, and we may add that for thirty of those years he has been a Sunday-school Superintendent. It might be interesting, were this work the place for such details, to give some information on the progress of Sunday-schools in Montreal, but such statistics must be sought for elsewhere. The subject, however, is so intimately associated with Mr. Ferrier’s career, that we cease to wonder, that, on festivals and anniversaries, he speaks with authority, and is listened to with attention. On this subject he might with truth say, in the language of Shakespeare:

          “I have labored,

And with no little study, that my teaching,

And the strong course of my authority,

May go one way.”

In early life Mr. Ferrier was, we believe, connected with the Church of Scotland, but many years since he joined the Wesleyan Methodist body, of which he is a zealous as well as a prominent member. He was, in 1846, selected to lay the corner stone of the large Wesleyan Church at Montreal. Here again his zeal and energy were alike valuable and conspicuous. Many persons observed the time and trouble he ungrudgingly gave to that work, but none were informed of the amount of his private offerings. Could “the stone out of the wall speak,” or could “the beam out of the timber answer it,” they would probably explain how largely that fine structure is indebted for its existence to the gifts, the contributions, and the sacrifices of the generous subject of our sketch.


Monsieur Jacques Lartigue, doctor of medicine, and a resident of Montreal, whispered his love vows to Mdle. Marguerite Cherrier, a maiden of that city who was not averse to matrimony. It is a long time ago, probably little less than one hundred years, since the moon heard, and repeated to the listening earth, the new, the old, the ever-recurring story of human love. Church and State unite with one another in keeping registers of marriage, but neither Church nor State deem it to be their duty to keep registers of courtship. No note is taken of the phases of that gentle condition which precedes the critical and indissoluble period when young men and maidens, like Juno’s swans, take the tide together, and, “coupled and inseparable,” glide down the stream of time. How long this period of conventional bliss in the instance before us was permitted to last we cannot tell; but we hope we do the maidens of those critical times no wrong in surmising that brevity in such matters was as popular then as now, and that she, the gentle Marguerite Cherrier, was quite as willing as are her representatives of the present day to qualify herself by marriage to share the solitude she thought “so strange,” and towards which, in the person of the young doctor, she “felt so pitiful.” They married. He pursued, we have no doubt, with diligence, the duties of his profession, and she, we may presume, attended with industry to the cares of the house. The times were stirring times, and the subjects whereon people conversed were sufficiently exciting. In the minds of some, memory was embittered with the recollections of the past; in the minds of others, hope was clouded by the uncertainties of the future. The old flag of the Bourbons was folded up and put away, like sacred tears, among the treasured relics of humiliation. The new flag had not yet lost its blood stains, or the marks of the battle-field whereon those stains were won.

There were many subjects of France then resident in Canada who had not adapted themselves to the new political condition, whose lips had pronounced no words of fealty to England, whose hands had subscribed no new oath of allegiance. The rose to them was obnoxious, and its fragrance distasteful, for it symbolized wounds and suffering. The white lilies, on the contrary, though broken and death-stained, were still perfumed with the breath of France. Two years before the period at which our sketch opens, the Revolutionary war had commenced which ended in the independence of the United States. Past and passing events furnished subjects enough of conversation, for there was plenty of news abroad. The young doctor must have gathered much gossip in his round of professional duty, and no doubt the domestic and foreign chit-chat with which he enlivened his home went far to reconcile him and his wife to the childless lot which appeared to be theirs. Years had passed away since their marriage. Those years were rife with interest to the country, but they were laden with loneliness to them. The world and their home were strangely contrasted: one was full of strife, the other was painfully still. The doctor and his wife had well nigh ceased to think that little feet would ever patter in their passages, that child voices would ever break the silence of their house, or that any human lips would fashion for them the endearing words “Father,” “Mother.” Years had elapsed, years of hope deferred, and one of the purposes of marriage remained unfulfilled, for their coronet of love was only “an empty crown.”

The year 1776 had passed its autumn tide when there arose in the heart of the childless wife that sense of deep, mysterious sympathy which is said to possess the soul when hope melts into joy. At such a moment it would probably be as difficult to conceal, as to express emotion. The dawn of the holiest love of which our nature is capable, the love of a mother for her child, had just broken, and she on whom the new light fell welcomed it as a benison from on high. Her humble piety and christian knowledge had taught her how women of old time, in the church of the first Testament, had received blessing for faith, and therefore it was that she accounted herself divinely favored, when, on the 20th June, 1777, a son was born to her, whom, with reverent humility of mind, she regarded as a “child from the Lord.”

Jean Jacques—for such were the names which the infant Lartigue received at his baptism—was nurtured with much care, and educated with great circumspection. Evidences of more than ordinary intelligence developed themselves in his tender age. His sayings were treasured like sacred lore, and tenderly kept in his mother’s heart. When he entered the Seminary of St. Sulpice, Montreal, he was remarked as a boy of more than common promise. Nor were those high expectations doomed to disappointment. He passed his class examinations with such satisfaction, that his parents were enabled, when he was yet very young, to send him to the College at Quebec, where in due time his education was finished. In the midst of those higher studies which occupied him there, young Lartigue had the misfortune to lose his father by death. This grief not only affected him deeply at the time, but it is thought it also had the effect of giving a serious inclination to his life. At the age of sixteen he left the College, and was articled as a student at law. As a youth, it was remarked that he possessed a faculty of speaking amounting, even at that age, to oratorical power. As at school, so now in his profession, he studied with rare diligence, and the knowlege of the civil law which rewarded his industry was, it may be here remarked, turned to noteworthy account in that higher profession for which his mind was visibly adapting itself. At the time when an honorable career was open to him; in the dawn of his manhood; when hope beckoned and pleasure allured him, he averted his face, and suddenly turned his back on the world. He cast his lot in the lap of self-denial, and, avoiding the forum, he found refuge in the Church. It was less difficult for him to do so, than it would have been for many others, for the religious inclination of his character predisposed him to assume those vows which belong to the higher vocation to which he aspired. He presented himself to Mgr. Pierre Denaut, the then Roman Catholic Bishop of Quebec, who conferred on him the first of the lesser orders of that Ministry of which, at some future day, he was destined to be a distinguished ornament. He now entered the Theological College, where, under the guidance of learned professors, he renewed in a fresh direction the ardor of his studious habits. Bishop Denaut, who appears to have possessed in a high degree that clear appreciation of character that so generally belongs to his order, very early discovered marked qualities of mind and character in the young catechumen. He lost no time in appropriating to sacred uses the gifts and attainments which came under his official notice. In 1798 M. Lartigue was ordained sub-deacon; in 1799, deacon; and in 1800 he was raised to the order of the priesthood. About this time he received the appointment of Secretary to the Bishop. The latter office he continued to fill, with singular ability, until the death of the latter, in the year 1806. Before his decease, indeed it was, we believe, among the latest acts of his expiring life, Bishop Denaut recommended M. Lartigue to Bishop Plessis, his successor in office, as one eminently qualified to undertake higher duties, should the opportunities offer of extending the Episcopate in Canada. Such however, did not then appear to be the desire of the subject of our sketch. His more modest inclination prompted him to gratify a long-cherished plan, and enter the Seminary of St. Sulpice. The new Bishop did not oppose the old wish; on the contrary, it received his approval. Thus the gentlemen of the Seminary had the opportunity of welcoming with more than common fervor, the new and gifted member of their order. M. Lartigue entered on the 22nd February, 1806; and on the first day of the same month, in the following year, he was admitted to the office of director. For fifteen years he was an ornament of that community, being remarked for his indefatigable zeal, his eloquence as a preacher, and his charity to the poor. He was, moreover, by habit a man of exact method, possessing an orderly and well balanced, as well as a highly-gifted, mind. Thus it was he found time for the fulfilment of all his manifold duties, as well as leisure for systematic polemical study, combined with a vigilant observance of contemporary events. He knew how intimately the Church and the world reflected one another, and how necessary a knowlege of both was to one who would wish successfully to rule either.

Bishop Plessis remembered and observed too. He had not forgotten his predecessor’s opinion of M. Lartigue. His own observation only confirmed that opinion. Therefore it was, the Bishop sought to withdraw the subject of our sketch from his retirement of St. Sulpice, and, by giving him prominent duty in the diocese, to prepare him, and it, for those changes which he had then in his mind, and which he desired to bring about. M. Lartigue was, therefore, and by way of preparatory discipline, associated with the venerable coadjutor, Mgr. Panet, in his episcopal visitations. In this way he became personally and intimately acquainted with those parts of the district of Montreal, which were subsequently set apart as the diocese, of which he was one day to be the first Bishop.

In 1819 Bishop Plessis, accompanied by the Revd. Messieurs Lartigue and Turgeon, embarked for England in the “George Symes,” a brig of two hundred and sixty-four tons. The visit is noteworthy among other reasons for the fact that an arrangement approved of by the Prince Regent, and communicated by Earl Bathurst, authorized the quasi erection of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Montreal. As, however, the Government of England did not, at that time, recognize the Roman Catholic Hierarchy as titularies, it was stipulated that episcopal functions might be exercised, but that ecclesiastical titles should not be assumed. This stipulation appeared to be consistent with the interpretation put on the fourth article of the Treaty of Capitulation, which, we believe, provided that the Canadians were to be secured in the enjoyment of their religion, “subject to British laws.” Negociations with the Cabinet of St. James, and the Court of Rome progressed simultaneously, and ended, for the time being, very satisfactorily. The Rev. M. Lartigue was appointed suffragant, under the title of “Bishop of Telmesse” to Bishop Plessis, with the district of Montreal for a diocese. For some reason with which we are unacquainted he was not consecrated until 21st July, 1821, when the solemn and imposing ceremony was performed in the Parish Church of Montreal, in the presence of a dense crowd of worshippers. We know not whether, among the very aged women of that congregation, the Marguerite Cherrier of a former generation, the young mother of forty-four years since, was present, but if she were there, who shall imagine how deeply moved must have been her heart and mind, as the emblems of sacred authority were delivered to her son; the crown of the church! and the crozier of the episcopate! On the 30th February, 1822, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Montreal was officially set apart, and the clergy were notified to pay all honor and obedience to the new Bishop. This mandate met, we believe, with some resistance at first, nor was the opposition wholly tranquillized until 1835, when, during the administration of the Earl of Gosford, the city and district of Montreal were united as one diocese, under the supervision of the Bishop, who was, we think, officially designated by that nobleman as the Roman Catholic Bishop of Montreal.

Our space will not permit us to dwell on the history of the struggles and triumphs, the advantages and the drawbacks, the encouragements and the hindrances that brightened and beset the Bishop’s path, in his work of establishing his diocese, and of organizing the method by which its machinery should be controlled. There were difficulties to be surmounted, and obstacles to be overcome; but intrepidity and courage were parts of the Bishop’s character. In undertaking the work of ruling a diocese, he did not decline the toil of founding it. His mind was energetic, and, besides, he possessed the faculty of concentrating thought and directing it with precision to a given point. Thus was he enabled, with skill and vigor, to drive home, like obdurate nails, the purposes he had at heart. He well knew how to bring people together, to unite them when they were brought together, to guide them by his reason, and inflame them with his zeal. With intuitive sagacity he selected as his Secretary the Rev. M. Bourget, the present Roman Catholic Bishop of Montreal, and no doubt he found in him a wise counsellor and a safe friend. He possessed great intellectual and moral excellences of character, and these charms were enhanced by the graces of modesty, humility and charity. He was accomplished, and yet he was humble. Encompassed with some infirmity of temper, he was unable to combine qualities seemingly opposite. He found it difficult to express strong opinions in weak language. When he felt warmly, he expressed himself with warmth. True to his Church, he was also loyal to his temporal sovereign. In the disturbed times of 1837-8 he took a firm and determined part in advocating the supremacy of the British Crown in Canada. He issued a stirring pastoral to warn the credulous people of his diocese that they were about to bring ruin and dishonor on their heads, as well as to fill their land with violence and bloodshed. Not only did the earnest Prelate “deliver his own soul,” but he saved the lives of some misguided persons, and covered, as with a shield, the honor of others. No doubt he did much to prevent an insurrection from becoming a rebellion, for he solaced authority by his opinion and example, that the Church of which he was a ruler was loyally effected towards the State of which he was a subject.

A life fevered by exertion, but calmed with charity, was hastening towards its close; his last days were neither luminous with exultation or clouded with fear. They were marked rather with the serenity and courage of a brave Christian gentleman, who could with reverent submission put off mortality, and be content to leave it without a pang, in the solitude of a new tomb. With calmness and fortitude he gave religious counsel to all, receiving at the same time the consolations of religion. He bestowed on those about him a good man’s blessing, and entered into rest on Easter-day, the 19th April, 1840. Thus, on the blessed festival of the Resurrection died the first Bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of Montreal. It seemed fitting that the city which had held his cradle, should also hold his grave.


Were we to read our Immigration Tables, with the aid of marginal notes furnished by contemporary history, we should probably learn that when the human tide sets in strongly from Europe it is impelled by forces whose strength is derived from one or other of the many forms of misery with which the earth continues to be afflicted. Sometimes the evil has taken the shape of persecution for conscience sake, sometimes of political oppression, sometimes it proceeds from the fear of agricultural distress, and sometimes from the experience of commercial failure; sometimes from weariness of a state of warfare, and sometimes from alarm at the consequence of peace; sometimes because the population is redundant, and sometimes because it is unhappy. Yet experience has, we think, very fairly established that what is the bane of one land may, and does, become the blessing of another. Thus seasons of material depression in Europe have been coeval with seasons of material prosperity in America. The misery of England has become a source of wealth to Canada, for the crowded-out consumers of the old world are transmuted into the contented producers of the new. But besides the disappointment that impels, there is the hope that attracts—the hope of peace, of competence, of plenty; the hope of brighter days and better times, when the steadiness of youth, and the industry of manhood, shall certainly be requited with an age of ease.

British emigration to this Province commenced almost immediately after the close of the American Revolutionary War. The war with France, which followed speedily on the Treaty of Peace with America, interrupted the regularity of the movement. The stream was checked, and became fitful and irregular in its flow. The desire to “people countries new” was not extinguished, but the means of gratifying that desire became difficult of attainment. There were sentinels on the seas in the shape of hostile cruisers, whose objects were to prey on British commerce, and impound British prisoners, and these facts were sufficient to reconcile most men to bear the ills they had rather than “to fly to others that they knew not of.” Intervals of peace were, we may conjecture, eagerly longed for. They were especially desired by those who wished to use them as avenues for escaping from present evils, as well as from those frowning miseries that were rising rapidly and gloomily on the troubled face of Europe.

The domestic condition of the United Kingdom was as much disturbed as were its foreign relations. There were fears within as well as without. One kingdom was blotted with rebellion, and invaded by a foreign army. The others were blemished with conspiracies and afflicted with disaffection. The reign of the sword was inaugurated, the reign of liberty was annulled. Justice took counsel of violence; and the alliance, it must be confessed, had the sanction of wisdom, for treason lurked in the land. The Habeas Corpus Act was four times suspended in four years. Special commissions for trying offenders were multiplied, and capital convictions might be counted by the score. The gallows held its carnival. The public executioner was ubiquitous, and his office an institution of the state. The last century closed, and the present one opened in anguish. It was one of the darkest periods in the modern history of England, the “very winter of her discontent,” and rendered more miserable by the approach of that mental eclipse which was destined ere long to shroud the King’s mind in hopeless night.

We read, and sometimes hear people talk, of the “good old times,” and we feel attracted by the pleasant fiction. Neither are we disinclined to repeat the popular cry, or circulate with facile fluency, the sentiment expressed in the phrase. If, however, the times to which we have briefly referred were “old times,” they certainly were not “good times.” Age and goodness do not always keep company. If they did so, experience would be less apt to breathe sighs of perplexity, and history would be less burdened with records of miserable suffering and abominable crime.

On the conclusion of peace with the United States of America, a disposition arose on the part of many people in the United Kingdom to seek their fortunes in America. Those whose minds were inoculated with democratic doctrines flocked to the United States, the model nursery of freedom, where, in the opinion of such purists, the twin creatures “equality and fraternity” may rock together in the painted cradle of liberty. Those, on the contrary, who prized the institutions of their ancestors, who thought as their fathers thought, respected what they revered, believed as they believed, whose hearts and affections were thoroughly imbued with reverence for the fame and glory, the ancient monarchy and ancient faith of England, sought neither to separate themselves from the “old flag,” nor to learn any other national hymn than the old familiar one of “God save the King.” While men were electing in which direction the spirit of adventure should carry them, the war with the French republic was opened, and the gates of English emigration were closed. The inhabitants of the British Islands were shut in as with a liquid wall, a wall which they could only cross with safety when convoyed by the fleets of England. The earliest act of the French consulate was a proposal for peace, but though that proposal was for the moment rejected by England, it seemed to pave the way to the treaty of Amiens, which was ratified in the following year. The spirit of adventure at once revived. Emigrants immediately left the old world for the new. The exodus, however, was of but short duration. The battle-flags of Europe were again unfurled, and men, for the most part, had no alternative but to remain at home until after the general pacification took place in 1815.

It was in the closing year of the last and the opening one of the present century, when the new government of France and the old government of England were hesitating on the attitudes they should wear towards one another, that two youths of Scottish birth, humble and undistinguished in their own land, but who have since become famous in this Province, were at the same time moved, one by the attraction of teaching, and the other by the attraction of trade, to leave their native country for the then newly acquired, or newly created, colony of Canada. One left Aberdeen in 1799; the other left Paisley in 1801. Unknown to each other at that time, their political paths have often crossed since. They were men of tenacious purpose, indomitable resolution, and opposite views. The first is the present Bishop of Toronto, and the second was the Honorable William Morris, the subject of our sketch.

Mr. Morris was born at Paisley, on the 31st October, 1786; his parents were in comfortable circumstances when they, accompanied by their children, left their Scottish home and made Canada the land of their adoption. On arriving at Montreal, the elder Mr. Morris determined to remain in that city. He engaged in business of the general kind which at that early day constituted the trade of Canadian merchants. This business included, among other hazards, the responsibility of owning ships. We mention the latter circumstance because it directly became the occasion of his own misfortune and indirectly of his son’s distinction. So little is man permitted to know of those governing accidents which not unfrequently give a new colour as well as a new direction to a life. Mr. Morris the elder was occupied in the quiet pursuit of his calling when intelligence arrived that a ship owned by him, homeward bound and richly laden, was lost in the Straits of Belle Isle. The loss provoked the discovery that no part of the cargo was insured. The owner’s prudence had not extended to the agent, who, from carelessness or crime, had left undone the duty he was instructed to perform. This serious loss was supplemented by other losses, for troubles rarely come alone: the consequence was that Mr. Morris was obliged to withdraw from the pursuits of commerce and betake himself to those of agriculture. He left Montreal, and settled on a farm near Brockville. In 1809 he departed this life, leaving to his children his blessing and his good name, and to his creditors a legacy of unpaid debts. Mr. William Morris having missed the advantages, seems to have undertaken very cheerfully the duties that commonly belong to the heir. Having inherited the care of a family he did his best to keep the younger members together, and by his exertions mainly contributed to their support and subsequent advancement. Though we are somewhat anticipating the course of events, we may mention that eleven years afterwards he and his late brother, Mr. Alexander Morris, having voluntarily and without solicitation paid all the debts of their father, received from the creditors as a mark of regard and gratitude two handsome pieces of plate. The double incident marks the existence of sterling qualities in the family character, and shows how thoroughly the subject of our sketch revered the memory and honored the name of his father.

In 1812, when war with the United States was declared, Mr. Morris left his business to serve his country. Having received his commission of Ensign from General Brock, he joined the militia flank companies. In October of that year, he volunteered with a British force under Lieut. Col. Lethbridge in the attack on Ogdensburg, and had the honor of commanding the only militia gunboat that was under fire and sustained injury. One of his crew was killed, and another was wounded at his side by a cannon shot. In the following year he took an active part in the capture of Ogdensburg. His soldierly bearing on that occasion was remarked at the time, and it is admiringly remembered still by some of the few survivors of that eventful period. Mr. Morris continued to serve till 1814, when a large reinforcement of British troops having arrived in the Province from the Peninsula, he was permitted to leave the service and return to the management of his own affairs at Brockville. After the close of the war, in the year 1816, he proceeded with the military and immigrant settlers to the lands allotted to them, near the Rideau, and he there commenced business in what was then a wilderness, but is now the substantial town of Perth. Commerce at that day, and in that settlement, must, we incline to think, have been of a very crude and elementary kind. “Roughing it in the bush” was then a very real process, and no fanciful figure of speech.

An incident, the growth of that early period, may be noted here, for while the fact to which it relates may have given a direction to his public career, it at the same time shewed that the thoughts and studies of the subject of our sketch moved in a higher and more bracing atmosphere than that which usually pervades the level of a country store. A gentleman, who had occasion to call on Mr. Morris, found him, where, in all the phases of his varied life, he was ever found, at the post of duty. His intellectual occupation, however, at that particular moment, seemed scarcely to harmonize with his ordinary pursuits, for the visitor, on glancing at the title of the book which the storekeeper was studying, found it to be “Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England.” The occasion and the book shewed the quality of Mr. Morris’ mind, as well as the direction of his ambition. The coarse duties of a country store were not only lightened and purified by association, but they were made subservient to more severe, and at the same time to more ennobling pursuits. The mind of the trader was being schooled to a higher calling, for the incipient statesman might be recognized in the exact merchant.

Such a picture of elevated study amidst homely pursuits should not be lost sight of. Men who boast of their services, and sing songs of triumph over their performances, not unfrequently forget the minstrel who struck the key note. The lusty politicians, for example, who laud and magnify the parts they took in “secularizing” the Clergy Reserves, and the weaker politicians who whisper their fame in “settling” these Reserves, may do well to remember, that one party might have had no cause for glory, and the other no occasion for trouble, had the storekeeper of Perth confined his attention to ledgers and day-books, and not have given space in his counting-house to “Blackstone’s Commentaries,” or occupied his mind with the consideration of constitutional questions, such as the comparative rights which two United Kingdoms should enjoy in a colony, which is equally the offspring of both.

Mr. Morris, through the medium of commerce, acquired wealth and a very extensive local influence, while the peculiar studies to which his mind was inclined gradually qualified him to turn that influence to praiseworthy account. It was about this time his friends and neighbors entrusted their political interests to his care, by selecting him to represent them in the Provincial Parliament. Nor was it long after he had taken his seat in the House of Assembly that he initiated the discussion of that great Clergy Reserve question, which, for good or evil, is inseparably associated with his name. In the year 1820, he moved and carried an address to the King, asserting the claim of the Church of Scotland to a share of the Clergy Reserves, under the Act 31, George III, cap. 31. But though the claim was made under the last mentioned Act, the argument was, we believe, based on the Act of Union between England and Scotland.

The question, as presented from this point, requires examination, though it certainly is not without ingenuity. The United Kingdom of England and Scotland passed the Constitutional Act by which Upper Canada, a colony of both Kingdoms, was to be governed. The two governing Kingdoms had two established Churches, alike only in the fact that both were Protestant. The Constitutional Act did not in terms provide for the establishment of a Church, though it did make exact provision for the maintenance of a “Protestant Clergy.” Who were they? The question was a fair one, and after years of controversy it was fairly answered. The Judges of England, in 1840, stated it to be their opinion, that the words did include the Clergy of the Church of England, and that they might include ministers of the Church of Scotland. Their opinion confirmed the opinion of Mr. Morris, and of those who thought as he thought; and with its confirmation the secular provision on which the Anglican Church rested was swept away, every vestige of argument for the existence of a State Church in Upper Canada being scattered to the winds.

Many will ask, and few will answer, the question: Whether it was greed or justice; envy or right, that moved the Scottish layman to the attack. On the other hand: Whether it was wisdom or superciliousness; religious principle, or secular policy, that influenced the English dignitary in the defence? The result arrived at, was not, it may be presumed, the result at which either disputant aimed. It is true that the state pretensions of the Anglican Church were humbled; but it is, we think, also true, that those of the Scottish Church were not exalted. Both arrived at the same level, but it was a level for which neither struggled. With status reduced, and property secularized, they equally found themselves side by side, seated in the dust, neither better nor worse than the various bodies of nonconformists by whom they were alike opposed, because they were alike established. Rome seemed to be the only gainer. If, in the spirit of mockery, she did not smile “at the divisions of Reuben”; neither was she, in the spirit of sympathy, troubled “with great searchings of heart.”

Mr. Morris was, we incline to think, in early life a Presbyterian of a somewhat severe type, whose form of Christian faith was not only highly flavored with the astringent properties of the covenant, but it was also strongly marked with the enmities of a generation which is passing away. With no particular hostility to the Church of England as such, he possessed, we think, a traditional and hereditary aversion to “Prelacy.” It was not agreeable to him to suppose that the Church of a portion of the United Kingdom, even though it was the Church of his sovereign, was established in Upper Canada. He disliked the idea, and he doubted the fact. Sometimes a man does, if we may so express it, feel a truth more easily than he can find a reason for it. The impression, taking the force of conviction, became rooted in his mind that the Anglican Church was giving herself airs to the prejudice of her Scottish sister. Mr. Morris failed, however, in common with many others, to detect the correct reason of that conviction. Indeed, it has only transpired lately. The judgment of the Privy Council, in the case of the Bishop of Natal, if we understand it aright, has laid down the rule that the Anglican Church can only be established in a colony which possesses a Parliament, by the action of the Sovereign, expressed by and with the advice and consent of that Parliament. This discovery would, partially at least, have solaced the mind of Mr. Morris had he made it at the time when his feelings were at white heat on the Clergy Reserve controversy. Later in life, after the disruption of the Church of Scotland, and during the frenzy of the Free Church movement, when men seemed to be driven by passion, or drifting in ignorance, in some cases spiritually homeless, in others spiritually destitute, oblivious of the old lights and doubtful of the new; at such a time and under such circumstances, his joy would probably have been qualified by the doubt whether in the general interests of Protestantism it were not wiser and safer to possess something like a recognized central power, some visible point of union, even though that point centred in his Sovereign as the temporal head of the Church. There was, moreover, a circumstance that touched English Churchmen very sensibly, and which, in the calm of thought, may not have been without its influence on the earnest mind of Mr. Morris. It was, we think, an incident eloquent in sadness to the representatives of the Reformation, that one of two Protestant Churches should have found herself constrained to appeal to Roman Catholics for protection against the aggressions of the other. These observations are necessarily mere conjectures, which may or may not have occurred to Mr. Morris. They are suggested by the fact, that in his later life, when the hand of time was on him, his words were softened towards the Anglican Church. The Scotch establishment was spiritually his “mother dear.” Yet, who knows but in some cloister of his soul was shrined a feeling, akin to love, towards his spiritual sister, whom in his younger days he had assailed and injured? Protestants, we know, yearn for union, they strive for association, and pray for oneness. Mr. Morris’ logical mind would see that visible union depends on a visible centre, and he would have no difficulty in choosing between established authority and evanescent opinion—between what is objective and fixed, and what is subjective and dependent on the variableness of thought.

The end of his policy was not yet accomplished, and we must go back in the narrative in order to connect the broken threads of the chain of events, which has for a moment been interrupted. In 1836, Mr. Morris was summoned by Royal mandamus to the Legislative Council. The instrument was signed by the then Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, Sir John Colborne. It was one of the latest acts of his administration; for five days afterwards, on the 27th January, 1836, the Government was assumed by Sir F. B. Head. The session is chiefly memorable from the circumstance, that the House of Assembly for the first time in the history of the Province, resorted to the extreme measure of stopping the supplies. The Parliament was consequently dissolved, and the elections which followed showed that a very considerable change had taken place in public opinion. In the succeeding session, in which the Conservative vote very largely preponderated, an Act was passed to amend the charter of the University of King’s College. This, like the Clergy Reserves, was a question on which Mr. Morris took strong ground. It is difficult to say that he wished to place a fatal obstruction in the way of the College, or to prevent it absolutely from going into operation. He was a skilful strategist, and knew how to economise his strength. He was not in the habit of bringing up his titled pieces until he had made a good disposition of his pawns. Thus, in his protest on the occasion, the statement is made, that the University endowment took its rise from an address of the Legislative Council and Assembly, in which it was represented that such endowment was required, firstly for establishing Free Grammar Schools, and secondly for establishing a Seminary of Learning of a higher character. The point of the protest was, that as the chief object of the endowment, the establishment of Free Grammar Schools had not been complied with, the establishment of a University ought not to be attempted, such irregular attempt being equivalent to a misapplication of School Lands. The aim of the protest appeared to be, to obstruct operations with a view to gain time. The reason of such obstruction was not sufficiently apparent, nor have we a right to suggest that which was not avowed. It was, however, remarked at the time, that while Mr. Morris was earnestly opposing the Church of England University of King’s College, he was even more earnestly promoting the establishment of the Church of Scotland University of Queen’s College, the difference being that the former took its rise from Provincial endowment, and the latter from private subscriptions.

This question, added to the question of the Clergy Reserves, had the effect of placing the two emigrant youths of 1799 and 1801 in direct antagonism. Both had been marked for honor by their Sovereign, and both enjoyed the title of “Honorable”; one, moreover, was a high dignitary of the Church, as well as a power in the State, for he was then Archdeacon of York, and is now Bishop of Toronto. It was amusing to note the unyielding and resolute determination of these rival Scots. Each might have said of the other what the Churchman frequently said of himself, “I never give up.”

In 1837 there was a very important gathering in Cobourg of members of the Scotch Church from all parts of Canada. The object was to take counsel, to address the Throne, and, as it was ingeniously stated, to assert, on the part of the Scotch inhabitants, an equal claim with their fellow-subjects of English origin to a fair share of the lands set apart for the maintenance of a Protestant clergy. The mere hope of honey would not have attracted so many of the working bees of the Scotch Church as were then collected together at Cobourg. If however they were attracted by distant sweets, they were impelled by a present sting. Unfortunately the Attorney-general of that day, Mr. Hergerman, had answered an argument with a sneer; and the sneer was directed against the Scotch Church. The Attorney-general said—the words are repeated from memory: “That the Church of Rome is an established Church, the Church of England is the established Church; but that the Church of Scotland is no more an established Church than is any other body of Protestant dissenters.” This manner of referring to the Church of Scotland was intensely offensive, and naturally so, to the members of that Church. They met, therefore, in conference at Cobourg, under the sense of an official affront offered to their national establishment. This affront they determined to answer at the Colonial Office, or, if need be, at the foot of the Throne; and therefore it was that the subject of our sketch, and the Rev. Alexander Mathieson, of Montreal, were appointed to be the bearers of petitions to the Queen and Parliament of the United Kingdom, setting forth the particular grievances of the Scottish race in Canada, in the matter of their status as members of the Church of Scotland, as well as their claims to a share of the Clergy Reserves. We may add, that Mr. Morris’ successful conduct of the negotiation was so satisfactory, that his countrymen in Canada marked their sense of his services by presenting him with a handsome piece of plate.

If, however, the views of Mr. Morris on ecclesiastical questions were—as we think they were—severely narrow in their religious gauge, and of questionable rigidity in their christian application, still his opinions on matters of state policy discovered a breadth of view which show favorably in the records of the old Legislative Council of Upper Canada. Thus, on the 20th of February, 1838, we find him protesting, singly and alone, against the adoption of the report of that House on the state of the Province, “because of the three remedial measures to which that report makes allusion, it fails to countenance the most feasible, namely, the union of this Province with Lower Canada.” Then and afterwards, whenever the occasion offered, Mr. Morris missed no opportunity of enforcing his opinions on this important point,—opinions which, we may add, have been inherited by his son, the honorable and learned member for the South Riding of Lanark, who, in and out of Parliament, whenever the occasion offers, takes delight in illustrating the advantages of even a larger political and territorial union than the one which his father advocated and used all diligence to bring about.

In 1837-8 Mr. Morris exerted his great influence in organizing the militia of his county and in repeating the part he had filled as a soldier twenty-five years before. Time had not changed his opinions. The controversies of Parliament, the strife of politics, even the fact that the Clergy Reserve question continued obstinate and immovable, had not taught his eye to wander towards another form of political existence, or his heart to throb with a weakened pulse towards his Queen and country. The gallant young ensign of 1812 had become the grave senior colonel of his county in 1837; but the gallantry of his youth was not forgotten in the gravity of his age. Always grave, he never quailed with fear nor smoothed his way with smiles. The courage which had been influenced by reason, was controlled by reason: none would doubt it who saw that square, imperturbable face, unyielding in its expression;—who saw that quiet and immovable manner, for passion was subject to the higher law, and rarely revealed itself; who saw that massive head crowned with brown and silver hair, which sprang resolutely upwards like a brush; and those calm, penetrating eyes, neither blue nor grey, but having the tint of steel when it is purest, as cold, and sometimes as terrible. His duty required him to send militia regiments to the front. This done, his inclination prompted him to show, by his example, that he was prepared to undertake any hazard which he called on others to perform; and therefore it was that he chose to occupy, with the militia of his county, an advanced position on the frontier. To use a phrase from the ranks, he was not only a “Colonel go on,” but a “Colonel come on!”

In 1841, at the union of the Provinces, Mr. Morris was called to the Legislative Council of Canada; and in the same year he was appointed by the Crown to be the Warden of the Johnstown District. In September, 1844, he was invited to accept the office of Receiver-General, and a seat in the Executive Council. This office he continued to fill till May, 1847, when he succeeded to the Presidency of the Council, which he held until the resignation of the Government in March, 1848. During a portion of that period, from October, 1844, to June, 1846, he was also a member of the Board of Works. Mr. Morris was considered to be an efficient departmental officer, and we have the testimony of Lord Metcalfe to the fact that he was a “valuable public servant.” After the retirement of the administration, of which he had been a member, Mr. Morris thought he had some right to the privilege of seclusion. There was, besides, another monitor at hand to warn him to court repose and avail himself of the rest his mind, as well as his body needed. The disease, which eventually terminated his life, now made its first appearance; and though that life was prolonged for ten years, we believe that suffering, more or less acute, was his inseparable companion. He died on the 29th June, 1858, in the seventy-second year of his age.

The subject of our sketch was a man of cautious wisdom, whose brow was the abiding-place of gravity, but never the seat of shame. The warp and the weft, the common coating, the daily livery of his nature was crossed and re-crossed with tissues of sombre hue; but the nature itself was white and kindly as a child’s. His aspect was stern, and harmonized with his manner, which was calm and cold;—not indeed that untroubled calm which is said to “glide away like happiness,” but that aging calm which clings about those who too early in life have been overladen with anxious toil. Mirth seemed in him to be expelled by thought, pleasure by business, and joy by carking care. If his youth was familiar with diversions, the memory of those diversions remained among the hidden, if not the forgotten, things of his life. There were many objects, for example, he would struggle to win, and few he would struggle to enjoy—for he did not live for enjoyment. He gave his country the greatest portion of his labors, and could afford his countrymen but a limited portion of his smiles. Work was his normal condition; and it was in the continuous and unchanging “light of high endeavor” that he seemed to live. He was not a brilliant man, but he was a man of persistent industry, indomitable perseverance, and scrupulous truth. Thought had of course enlarged the channels of his mind, and observation had refined his judgment; but thought and observation were not mere idlers of the brain—they were ever actively working towards some given object. Of him it might have been written:

“Busy brain! thy work is ever

            On! on! on!

 What hast thou with rest to do?

 Rest shall still thy throbbings never;

            On! on! on!

 Yet thy ceaseless work pursue;

            And thy reign,

 For evil or for good, shall last

 Till the dream of life is past,

            Busy brain!”

As a member of the Legislative Council, Mr. Morris paid scrupulous respect to ceremonies and observances. Usage and custom were to him law and authority; not because mere show and state were in themselves attractive, but because he reverenced the spirit that dwelt in the form, and he feared in the absence of the latter the former might be looked for in vain. Therefore it was, that the rules and practice of Parliament were congenial studies, and the customs and privileges of its members subjects of jealous regard. As a speaker Mr. Morris was clear, logical, and vigorous; and the moral force of his character no doubt gave impetus to the intellectual force of his opinions. Passionless himself, he could excite the passion of other men. His look, his manner, his earnest words had about them a telling power less easily described than felt. He was not eloquent, for in his nature there was little poetry. He was not impassioned, for in his habit there was little warmth. He was not commanding, for in his style there was little grace; and yet for the absence of these attractions, there were compensating forces which, by comparison, left but few superior to him among the fearless as well as effective speakers of that Council.

One, who knew him well and revered him much, thus closed a loving sketch of his life: “Few public men pass through life and carry with them more of public confidence and more general respect than did Mr. Morris. He has left a bright example to us in these troublous times. In private and in public life he showed himself to be that noblest of the works of God—an honest man! And now that full of years and of honors he has, after five years of patient suffering and Christian resignation, entered upon his rest, he has left the fragrant memories of his busy, active career as an example and incentive to men in public and private positions to follow his footsteps.”


The history of the most attractive lives is, we think, in one respect uniformly incomplete. The boyhood of our heroic men is very partially disclosed, while the girl life of our “wonderful women” is almost wholly hidden from view. It is true that some, who as men are famous in story, are referred to as self-willed and unmanageable boys, from whom their parents sought deliverance by shipping them off to sea, or by transporting them to India or a Colony, to find in either a career or a grave. The lives of such persons being commonly ruled by violent impulses, are generally marked by stirring action, and, principle apart, it will chiefly depend on circumstances apparently accidental whether such action be praiseworthy or the reverse. Action, however, which takes its rise in reflection should, we think, be regarded as of a higher quality, for it possesses the calm strength which is akin to majesty, which no excitement can bewilder, no danger appal.

In the absence of positive information, we are sometimes obliged to sketch in a speculative rather than in a precise manner; yet there are occasionally in such cases a few well authenticated incidents in the boyhood and youth of the individual which throw unexpected light upon his future career, and supply us with a key to his true character. Possessed of this key, the observer will be enabled to determine, if not with accuracy, at least with some approach to truth, how such a person would be likely to act in certain emergencies, and especially how he would act on the great test occasions of life. The glimpses we have obtained, as well as the facts we have been enabled to gather, of the subject of our present sketch, will, we think, enable the reader to arrive at conclusions of his own on the merits of those portions of a career of which we can supply no exact information, but which, read by the lights we do possess, must, we are prepared to believe, have been marked with chivalrous courage, conspicuous wisdom, and a sagacity alike curious and amusing.

Burke informs us that Sir Richard Graves Macdonnell, C.B., the present Lieut.-Governor of Nova Scotia, is the eldest surviving son of the Reverend Doctor Macdonnell, Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, by Jane, daughter of the Very Reverend Richard Graves, Dean of Ardagh, so well known to the Biblical student by his able and comprehensive commentary on the Pentateuch. Sir Richard’s family, as his name suggests, was originally of Scottish origin. He is descended from the Antrim branch of that highland clan which acknowledges as its chieftain the “Lord of the Isles.” His ancestors settled more than two centuries ago, in the northern part of Ireland where their descendants have continued to reside. His mother’s family is descended from an ancient and still extant English stock, one of whose progenitors a Colonel in Cromwell’s army, settled in Ireland in 1650. From this soldier of the commonwealth has sprung numerous and distinguished ornaments of the church, the army, and the learned professions.

Sir Richard was born at the close of 1815. In 1830 he entered Trinity College, Dublin, obtaining a high place at entrance. During his undergraduate course he won many honors, and in 1835 he became a Scholar of the House. In 1836 he received his B.A. Degree, in 1838 his M.A. Degree, and in 1844 the Special Honorary Degree of LL.D. As a graduate, His Excellency distinguished himself not a little as a speaker in the University Historical Society, a Society which has made itself famous from the crowd of illustrious orators, such as Grattan, Flood, Plunket, Burke and Burrowes, who there displayed the first evidence of their magical powers, and received the first training in that rare art, of which they afterwards became such perfect masters, and such splendid examples. In 1839 he was called to the Irish bar, but having subsequently taken up his residence in London, he kept his stated Terms, or, more correctly, he ate the stated number of dinners, and was in 1841 admitted as a member of the Honorable Society of Lincoln’s Inn.

We are inclined to think the narrative of Sir Richard’s life at this period would be found fruitful in incidents alike suggestive and amusing. Some men are said to live every day of their lives; others again, of more mercurial and exhaustive resources, may be said to live several lives in living their own. Some are beset with a desire to go everywhere, to see everything, and to know everybody. This spirit of irrepressible curiosity would lure the subject of it to strange places, and among people strangely dissimilar in rank, station, and taste, where human nature would be seen in the rough as well as in the more polished stages of its progress. Not perhaps for any scientific object, but for the sake of occupation, or for the fun of the thing, or by way of experiencing a new sensation, would such an one, for example, sacrifice something to the opportunity of personally inspecting the sunny side of the clouds, or of examining the pavement of the sea. To ascertain the former a balloon ascent would be irresistibly charming; and to discover the latter a lesson with the divers, and accoutered as they are, would be welcomed with zest. Inconvenience as well as hazard would of course attend both experiments, but these objections would be overlooked in the desire to see what other people had not seen, and go where other people had not been. The facts of Sir Richard’s career are so richly veined with curious passages of experimental research in out of the way places as to justify the supposition that his personal history must be crossed and recrossed with experiences alike startling and instructive. Indeed there is a piece of unique adventure in his earlier life which will illustrate the point. A fête was to be celebrated in the neighborhood of London, the profits of which were to be applied to some philanthropic or benevolent purpose. One of the attractions of the festival was a balloon ascension by the then celebrated æronaut, Mr. Green. The day fixed turned out to be unfavorable in the extreme. Wind and storm prevailed to such a degree that the balloon adventure was deemed to be hazardous. However a large crowd had gathered, and Mr. Green possessed experience, and did not lack courage. He only stipulated for a companion. The subject of our sketch immediately answered the condition; and, having borrowed a greatcoat from a spectator, took his seat in the car. That bit of experience, in one of the most violent wind storms on record, must have been noteworthy as well as exciting; that it was the former there can be no doubt, for the account of the adventure, written by the amateur æronaut, was so interesting and attractive that we believe we are not exaggerating when we say that it was translated and reproduced in every language of Europe.

In 1841, as we have stated, Sir Richard Macdonnell was admitted as a Barrister at Lincoln’s Inn, and on the 1st April, 1843, he sailed for the West coast of Africa, having been appointed by the Queen Chief Justice of the British possessions at the Gambia. Why it was that Mr. Macdonnell was selected for this particular office we have no means of knowing. He had indeed during his sojourn in London made his mark on more than one page of life. As an accomplished gentleman of courage and address, he would necessarily and of course win his way in society. But beyond the attraction of a polished manner, he was known for his cultivated tastes and his literary talents. Contributions of marked ability had been made by him to several of the leading periodicals of the day, and these had attracted a more than usual share of notice. In this way, and in his capacity of Honorary Secretary of the Polish Association, where among other literary men he found in Thomas Campbell, the poet, an enthusiastic fellow laborer and warm personal friend, he became acquainted with many of the leading statesmen of England. Beyond the qualifications we have mentioned, Government probably recognized the presence of two recommendations, youth and capacity, the physical vitality necessary to encounter the climate, and the intellectual ability necessary to perform the work.

With a light heart and a strong constitution, a clear head on his shoulders, and the Royal Commission in his pocket, the new Chief Justice sailed to the scene of his allotted labor; and we are quite sure the determination of his mind was that the ebony subjects of the Crown in Africa should receive at his hands justice in colour the reverse of their complexions. It is probable that the duties of the new office were insufficient for the occupation of one who at the time, and ever since then, has been beset with an inordinate appetite for work. It was not enough for him to administer justice, for with characteristic earnestness he addressed himself to the task of consolidating the laws. Moreover, the duties of a Judge did not weaken his taste as a traveller, for we find him instructing himself while he benefitted others by systematically pushing his way to the interior of Africa, to points and places theretofore deemed to be almost inaccessible to the white man. On one occasion, in the year 1845, the Chief Justice, attended only by a suite of native servants, penetrated as far as the dominions of the “Sultan of Bondou,” to reach whom he had to ascend the Gambia four hundred miles and then to cross several Provinces lying between that river and the Senegal. In the course of this adventurous trip, the Chief Justice encountered the common dangers from climate and the not uncommon ones from banditti, but contrived to extricate himself from all and to return alive, being one of the very few who had safely accomplished that perilous journey. One incident of travel may be mentioned; for since the episode missed a fatal termination, it may be recalled as a somewhat amusing example of intellectual consciousness accompanied by physical immobility. Death seems to have been kept at bay apparently awed and intimidated by the strong and indomitable will of the man with whose body he grappled but by whose spirit he was foiled. During the journey, the Chief Justice was seized with malignant tropical fever. Being his own physician, he met the assailant with the best remedies at his command. The attack, however, appeared to be too strong for the defence. The human citadel was apparently taken, for the Chief Justice was to all appearance dead. Preparations were made by his sable servants for his decent interment, and these preparations the Chief Justice was quite aware were being hurried forward with a haste which the climate might, but which he could not, excuse. Happily for his fame, and for our work, the proceedings were suspended by reason of an altercation on a knotty property question. Each member of the suite desired to constitute himself the residuary legatee of the deceased Chief Justice. The heated controversy acted like a cordial on the subject of it, and seemed to supply the physical animation which the case required. Unable to utter a syllable, the supposed corpse had strength to raise his hand. Unlike the sea captain, who in answer to the dying sailor’s objection to be thrown over board before he was dead; angrily observed, “You need not be so jolly particular for a few minutes” the suite suspended their unseemly chattering. The silent hand sufficed to convince them that the white man was some sort of semi Divinity in whose presence speech should be hushed and to whose person homage should be rendered. Partial recovery speedily took place, and the suite having naturally jumped to the conclusion that the Chief Justice would return at once to the coast, were beyond measure surprised when on the very next day they were directed to go forward, being at the same time given to understand that as the journey was undertaken to see the “Sultan of Bondou,” to that Potentate it was the intention of their master to go. Nor was the journey without material advantages, for a Treaty of Commerce was entered into with the Sultan which has proved to be highly beneficial to the nation.

Having accomplished at the Gambia even more than he had proposed to himself or than he was commissioned to perform, Mr. Macdonnell resigned his office and returned to his native country. While he held his appointment at the Gambia, Mr. Macdonnell availed himself of his leave of absence during the sickly season to make visits in two successive years to the British possessions in America, travelling through the Canadas, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, as well as over a large part of the United States. Curious adventures, and adventures more uncomfortable than curious, seem to follow some men with most perplexing constancy. The subject of our sketch might perhaps be cited by way of example. On one of these North American excursions, Mr. Macdonnell, when attempting to reach the Island of Prince Edward from the main land of Nova Scotia, was obliged to embark in a small, ill found boat. This boat was wrecked in mid-channel near the island of Pictou, and our traveller, after buffeting with the waves as best he could, found himself on shore more dead than alive, but kindly cared for by the fishermen of the Island. With the heartiness which characterises his proceedings, Mr. Macdonnell enquired into the manner of life of his humble hosts, and naturally desired to do something for the people who had saved his life. Thus it was he learned that proceedings at law were on foot to dispossess those people of their holdings, and that they were too poor and too weak to resist the authority which could pay the lawyers and employ the Sheriff. Fortunately for the poor fishermen, the “waif” which had been washed on their shores, or which they had fished out of the sea, was by profession a lawyer and by habit a man of generous instincts. He heard enough of their story to discover in the narrative a strong ingredient of hardship, and he therefore sent the facts of the case with the necessary retaining fee to a lawyer of Halifax, whom he requested to take up their cause, leaving to the constituted Tribunals the responsibility of determining whether the Islanders had or had not the claims they advanced. We may state that the fishermen were not disturbed in their holdings, and we may add further that they did not know their deliverer until, to their great amazement, he appeared recently among them as the Queen’s Representative in Nova Scotia.

Having seen much and travelled far, Mr. Macdonnell in 1847 returned home, previously determining to settle in London and practice at the English bar. This plan of life was not destined to be carried out. Earl Grey was made aware of Mr. Macdonnell’s arrival in England. His Lordship had formed a very favourable opinion of his capacity in the comparatively subordinate office which he had filled at the Gambia. The office of Governor of those settlements was then vacant, and it was offered to and accepted by the subject of our sketch. Thus it was that for the next three years Mr. Macdonnell found himself possessed of almost irresponsible power and engaged in the duty of governing as a paternal despot about one million of people. The commercial policy he had sought to introduce in 1844-5 was the policy he endeavored to foster and promote in 1847-8. The difficulty however was to check the marauding propensities of numerous warlike tribes, whose only idea of commerce seemed to be to possess themselves of other persons’ gains. Thus it chanced that the cultivators of the soil, as well as the peaceful traders of the settlements, found themselves harassed and plundered by tribes to whom tillage and trading were alike distasteful. The new Governor, with instinctive courage, and in a summary way determined if possible to put a stop to this state of things, and with this end in view he undertook to visit in person the “King of Keenung” who resided in a strongly fortified native town, and whose subjects had committed several robberies. This act of temerity very nearly cost the Governor his life, for he fell into an ambush treacherously laid for him, and with the two friends by whom he was accompanied only just missed assassination; for his clothes were literally pierced and cut in a dozen places with spears and swords. Experience and an apt address on his part and the part of his friends, added to the gallantry of some local allies, saved him from being murdered. Should the natives with their increased knowledge of manufactures become acquainted with the qualities of Sheffield cutlery it is probable that some future act of treachery will be less cheerfully remembered than the one under notice.

Such an affront to the Queen’s Representative could not be borne. Retribution, sharp and peremptory, was at once decided on; and thus a new character came to be added to those already acquired by one who had successively been a Chief Justice, a Plenipotentiary and a Governor. The military was added to the civil character, or rather the latter was for the time merged in the former. His Excellency forthwith commenced warlike operations, and by great exertion and with the cordial cooperation of the then commandant Major Hill of the 2nd West India Regiment, an efficient force was soon organized and ready for service. Government House under circumstances was wholly foreign to the Governor’s taste for he had no disposition “to live at home at ease.” Therefore it was His Excellency caused himself to be Gazetted as captain of a company of volunteers to act under the orders of the Commandant. The fortified town of Barnbak lying directly in the route was besieged and taken, and afterwards the town of Keenung was assaulted. The fighting on both sides appears to have been creditable for gallantry and conspicuous for pluck. The king however was not satisfied with the state of affairs, for his comparatively speaking large army, which had rushed confidently to the attack was foiled and driven back by the small British force. Thereupon His Majesty added discretion to valour, and having made restitution of all plunder, humbly sued for peace. This contest which cost the British thirty soldiers in killed and wounded resulted in measures of increased security to trade and commerce, and at the same time produced such a wholesome impression on the minds of the native chiefs with respect to the capacity of the new Governor, that no further disturbance arose in that part of the country during His Excellency’s administration. We may mention that in his work on Colonial Policy, Earl Grey has warmly eulogized the conduct of His Excellency for his rule at the Gambia. Before returning to England Mr. Macdonnell determined to gratify afresh that relish for adventure which seemed to be inherent in his nature. He took two excursions into the interior of the Continent in one of which we believe he penetrated further than any white traveller had previously accomplished, for he found himself in the region of those monstrous animal and vegetable productions for which equatorial Africa is famous. These explorations, while they yielded personal gratification to the explorer, were turned to beneficial account for the nation. The commerce of the Gambia was developed and so much increased that it recently employed inwards and outwards no less than seventy thousand tons of shipping. In 1851 Mr. Macdonnell returned to England on leave of absence, and in 1852 he was created a Companion of the Bath. In the latter year, at the request of Government, he revisited the Gambia where he remained for a few months to perfect certain local arrangements and complete various commercial treaties with native chiefs.

While thus engaged he was gazetted to the Government of St. Lucia, and almost immediately afterwards to what in point of climate may be regarded as the more desirable one of St. Vincent. Disappointment met him on the threshold of his new Government, for St. Vincent, the most picturesque and ordinarily the most healthy of the West India Islands, was then ravaged with yellow fever, to which disease his predecessor in the Government, Sir John Campbell, had fallen a victim. In the second year of Mr. Macdonnell’s administration the more terrible scourge of cholera visited the Island, and in a form so dreadful as to appal the stoutest hearts. The writer has in his possession a letter written by a gentleman, at that time a resident clergyman of St. Vincent, but now settled in Canada, which contains the maturely formed opinions of one thoroughly competent to judge of the qualities of the man who then represented the Queen at St. Vincent.

“The Governor gained great credit for the active part he took in endeavoring to prevent, as far as human means could, the introduction of cholera into St. Vincent at the time when it was raging around us, but far more for his great personal kindness, and for the fearlessness with which he encountered danger and assumed responsibility when it was necessary that some one should take the lead.

“I had the best opportunity of knowing that while the deaths within two miles of his residence amounted to from 50 to 80 per day, and while not a few held back in the face of such danger, the sick in the immediate neighborhood of Government House were frequently visited and provided for by Sir Richard himself. Here such conduct would perhaps be akin to rashness, but with such a population and under such circumstances the example was of incalculable value.

“The earnest part he took in the deliberations of the Board of Health, and the suggestions he himself made proved of the greatest use in inducing energy of action and keeping within bounds the petty jealousies which always arise in such Boards. It was chiefly if not entirely owing to his exertions and on his responsibility that Medical Officers were appointed to the outlying districts which would otherwise have been entirely neglected, and where but for this the mortality (which in the whole Island exceeded seven per cent.) would have been far greater.”

The same writer adds that:

“The great characteristic of Sir Richard’s administration was firmness and thorough impartiality—for these qualities every one gave him full credit, but the very largeness of his views and his own conscious strength made him at times rather intolerant and inclined to be arbitrary in dealing with the insular prejudices and little-mindedness of a variegated House of Assembly, which certainly was far more tenacious of its dignity than deserving of respect. To use their own dialect he was regarded by the negroes as a “strong man,” and they had reason to say so, for by measures of forethought and promptitude he prevented outrages, which, had they been permitted to occur, would have been followed by such scenes as have lately disgraced the Island.”

In fact the Colony was sadly out of condition when Mr. Macdonnell assumed the Government. The political and social state of the Island was disorganized; the finances were deranged, and the treasury exhausted. Plague and pestilence followed, causing the planters and others to abandon the place, adding, by their flight, to the fear and trembling of those who were obliged to remain. The advantage of having a “strong man” at the head of affairs was then apparent. His Excellency’s brave heart and bright example were of incalculable benefit. He wished to restore tone, to inspire trust, and prevent if possible the sympathetic spread of the disorder. Nor was there any better way of fulfilling duty, and at the same time of provoking courage than to pass among those who had been stricken with cholera, and, by touching the patients, to convince the people generally that the disease was not contagious.

After administering the Government of St. Vincent for about two years, Mr. Macdonnell returned to England, when he received from Her Majesty the honor of Knighthood. It so happened that he was in London, in the spring of the year, when on the intervention of the House of Commons, the nomination of a gentleman to the Government of South Australia was revoked. The vacant office, was, by the Queen’s command, without any solicitation on his part, offered to Sir Richard Macdonnell, accompanied with the intimation that he would be invested with the superior title of “Captain General and Governor in Chief.” The offer was accepted and obeyed with such alacrity that on the 7th of June following we read of the arrival of Sir Richard and Lady Macdonnell at Adelaide, the seat of his new Government.

The Colony seemed to have reached a critical point in its history. The questions of Parliamentary responsibility and local self-government were being discussed in the Australian as they had been in the British American possessions. The Colonial policy of the empire favored the popular views of the Colonists, and it would seem that Sir Richard was instructed to carry out in Australia, what Lord Sydenham had initiated in Canada, a system of popular Government based on ministerial responsibility. It might be instructive did our space permit, to note the political progress of that Province from its state of tutelage to its condition of self-government, and compare it in its separate parts with the system which obtains in Canada. There are points of difference, not unworthy of note, with respect to which, the advantage may not altogether incline to the latter Province.

The apparently irrepressible desire of Sir Richard Macdonnell to see everything and go everywhere, moved His Excellency to undertake long and frequent journeys to the interior and along the seaboard of his dominions. This practice was as fruitful in popularity as it was in personal gratification. The governed were brought into personal contact with the Governor, much to their mutual gratification, and perhaps to their mutual advantage. There were besides objects of natural curiosity as well as of local interest to examine which would attract one who, like Sir Richard, appears to be beset with an explorer’s passion for adventure. His rule in Australia was marked with energy and originality, and his departure was accompanied with general regret. The common sentiment of sorrow found expression in the local press, and by way of example we make the following extract from the “Adelaide Observer:”

“Our late Governor has therefore been nearly seven years with us. These seven years have been the most important period in our history; and the future of the Province will take its shape and mould very much from the public measures which have been passed during this time, and with which the name of Sir R. G. Macdonnell will henceforth be associated. Self-government has become an accomplished fact. Through the wisdom of the Imperial Government, a liberal constitution was granted to the Colony, which has now been in successful operation for several years. The granting of such a Constitution to this Province was an experiment which some looked upon with serious apprehension; but, on the whole, it has worked well. The good sense of the people, the ability of their representatives, and the indefatigable exertions of the Government, have carried us through the testing period of our history, leaving but little to regret and much to admire. It is quite possible that our Constitution is yet susceptible of improvement; it was put forth at first with something of a tentative character, and even its best friends never claimed perfection for it; but, on the whole, we have no hesitation in saying that it was admirably adapted to the circumstances and necessities of a new and thriving colony like this; and with here and there a slight drawback it has been a decided success. That the useful working of representative government in South Australia owes much to the intelligence, industry, and conciliatory spirit of Sir Richard will be readily admitted on all hands.

“The volunteer movement, which has taken such firm root in the Colony, and which will be a strong arm of defence in the event of any hostile aggression on our shores, has from the first been encouraged and helped by His Excellency. His wise counsels, his warm sympathy, and his personal efforts, have done much to promote the stability of the movement. Other gentlemen have worked manfully to bring the scheme to its present comparative state of efficiency; but it is no detraction from their merits to say that but for the energy and zeal displayed by the Governor, the volunteer movement would hardly have been so successful as it is. The Real Property Act, which is justly regarded as one of the greatest boons ever conferred on this community, found in Sir Richard from the very first a warm-hearted advocate and a judicious helper. We cannot help regarding it as a happy circumstance that when this Act was before the public, forcing its way into notice, in spite of most violent opposition, we had, as Her Majesty’s Representative, a gentleman whose legal education and knowledge of constitutional questions enabled him to aid its advocates, and to take those precautions which his position, as the guardian of Her Majesty’s prerogatives, required him to do. In his despatch to the Colonial Office, in reference to the Real Property Act, written with clearness, discrimination, and great ability, His Excellency rendered valuable assistance to the framers and advocates of that measure. In identifying himself with every public movement for the good of the Colony, whether of a literary, artistic, educational or philanthropic character, Sir Richard has shown how well he understood the duties of his high office, and how the weight of his influence and the value of his patronage might give encouragement to those who were seeking to raise the character of the Colony. Various societies have received his patronage and been aided by his powerful pen and eloquent speech; the South Australian Institute always found in him a ready advocate of its claims and an able coadjutor in its operations; the Competitive Examinations, at the Board of which he presided, were indebted for much of their efficiency and success to his zeal and scholarship; and, indeed, every public society and benevolent movement has received valuable aid from His Excellency; and his commanding presence, both on the platform, and in the committee-room, will be greatly missed. In reference to religious matters, we believe Sir Richard has pursued a course which has secured for him the respect and esteem of all sects and parties. In a community like this, where there is no dominant church, but where all bodies of religionists are placed on a footing of equality, it requires delicate caution in a gentleman occupying so high position as Governor of the Colony, so that no offence may be given to any. Firmly attached as Sir Richard is to his own church, he has done nothing during his long residence amongst us to offend the prejudices or to discountenance the principles of other churches. On the contrary, he has done something to bring the different religious bodies into closer connection and more friendly relation. He has served all in turn who have sought his assistance; and the hospitality of Government House has been open to the clergy and members of various denominations. He has probably traversed the Colony in all directions, from its eastern to its western boundary, more completely than any bushman in the country, excepting perhaps Mr. Stuart and some of his companions. In dispensing the hospitalities of the Vice-Regal Court, His Excellency has manifested a generous liberality, in which we need hardly say he has been aided by the excellent and amiable lady who bears his name and shares his dignity. No wonder, then, that the removal of Sir Richard and his lady from amongst us occasions deep and almost universal regret. It is not often that Governors leave these colonies with such warm expressions of esteem and respect as Sir Richard carries with him from South Australia.

“His administration here shows that it is possible for Her Majesty’s representative, while fully maintaining the royal prerogatives and guarding the dignity of the Throne, to secure at the same time the confidence and respect of the people.

“A great many of the colonists, ladies and gentlemen, took leave of His Excellency and Lady Macdonnell on Monday last, at a levee and drawing-room held at Government House, on which occasion several valedictory addresses were presented to His Excellency, which will be found fully reported in another place. An address from the ladies of South Australia was also presented to Lady Macdonnell, accompanied by a parting memento, to which her Ladyship replied in pleasing terms. Sir Richard and Lady Macdonnell received quite an ovation on Tuesday afternoon on leaving Government House for Glenelg, the road from the gates of the Domain through King William street being lined by volunteers and thousands of spectators.”

On his return to England Sir Richard very earnestly addressed himself to the work of bringing under the notice of the Government the claims of Colonial Governors to retiring or superannuation allowances. The able enclosure which accompanied the following letter was, we have reason to believe, from the pen of Sir Richard himself. It must be satisfactory to him to know that his views have become embodied in the law of the land, and that a most meritorious and at the same time much slighted class of the public servants have reason to thank him for attracting attention to their claims, and for being instrumentally the means of securing for them substantial consideration. Many a highminded representative of Her Majesty will, by the passing of that act, feel himself to be released from galling cares. His official career is now brightened with the prospect of a pension from Imperial funds, and can not therefore be blemished with humiliating efforts to make a purse from Colonial emoluments.

To His Grace the Duke of Newcastle, K. G.

London, March, 1863.

My Lord Duke,

We, the undersigned, in common, we believe, with all others who have administered Colonial Government as Her Majesty’s representatives therein, have long felt the exceptional and peculiar hardship of being the only immediate servants of the Crown for whom no retiring allowances under any circumstances have hitherto been provided, whatever may be the merit or length of their services.

We, therefore, respectfully solicit your Grace’s attention to the enclosed printed statement, which we believe fairly illustrates the anomalous and painful position of Governors of Colonies in that respect, as compared with Her Majesty’s other public servants.

We request your Grace to consider favourably the arguments set forth in the enclosed paper; and trust that you may see fit to bring the subject under the consideration of Her Majesty’s advisers, with a view to the introduction of some Parliamentary measure, which may meet the case. The sketch of a Bill annexed to the within statement is intended only to illustrate our view of what such a measure might be.

We are quite aware that it does not rest with us to suggest the proper means of carrying out the intentions of Her Majesty’s Government, even though they may accord with our views.

We have, &c., 

With his experience of the Colonial service and his repute as a Governor, it was not probable that Sir Richard Macdonnell would remain long unemployed. On the succession of Earl Mulgrave to the title of his deceased father the late Marquis of Normandy, a vacancy occurred in the office of Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. The post was immediately offered to the subject of our sketch, and thus Sir Richard for the third time found himself in the North American possessions, but on this occasion as the Representative of His Sovereign.

The habit of governing had not been forgotten by His Excellency when he became the Governor of Nova Scotia. Without doubt he found himself called upon to rule in conformity with a system which, though perhaps rather experimental than established, did not necessarily reduce the Governor to the condition of a cypher. At least such appeared to be the opinion of Sir Richard Macdonnell; and there can be little doubt the opinion has its root in truth and experience. The Representative of the Sovereign, being also a Statesman of approved wisdom, must necessarily be a power in the State; whose influence however should rather be felt, than articulated; seen in the acts of Government rather than heard in the words of the Governor. Any departure from the law of silence should be resorted to only on grave occasions when the reason is so transparent as to commend itself on its merits. At the very outset of his Government, Sir Richard Macdonnell appeared to think there were reasons why the exception should be the rule, and when in the interests of morality and good government he should not keep silence. In replying to a congratulatory address of the inhabitants of Pictou, His Excellency took the opportunity to contrast the American Republic with the British Monarchy, to compare the confusion of the former with the serenity of the latter; and in doing so, to point, as Lord Brougham[2] had done before him, to a particular virus which, with ulcer-like malignity, was spreading itself through every channel and artery of the American system. He shewed that the uncertain tenure of office under a democratic form of Government was at the root of much of the misery that had taken place in the United States. His Excellency added by way of application that he had observed in Nova Scotia the germ of similar corruption and therefore he took upon himself to sound the alarm by cautioning people of all parties to shun the road to ruin; to turn back from a pernicious way; to cling to monarchical and avoid republican usage. Experience shewed that by debasing the State service, the State servants became demoralized. The best talent, the fairest reputations, the honorable and educated minds of the country, would shrink from an employment which, by ignorant clamour, or corrupt practices, had been degraded from a science to a craft, from a study to a job, in which high principle, stainless integrity, and cultivated taste were sneered at as unmitigated nuisances. It was therefore a bold declaration of sound principle, which a less courageous man would not have made, for it reflected on the acts of his own Council. Nevertheless it approved itself to the public conscience, and startled His Excellency’s advisers with the wholesome conviction that a policy of terror and oppression, being unjust to individuals and injurious to the State, was also opposed to the good sense, sound judgment and right feeling of the people themselves.

The very worst (blot) undoubtedly, is the entire change of public functionaries, from the highest to the lowest which follows every change of the President, converts all the more considerable members of the community into place hunters, and makes the whole interval, between one election of Chief Magistrate and another, a constant scene of canvass.[3]

Brougham’s Statesmen of the time of George III, article “Thomas Jefferson.”

The political condition of the United States had moved thoughtful men in the British Provinces very carefully to review their own position and enquire whether by a closer union among themselves they could not strengthen their power and preserve intact the institutions under which they lived. The sentiment was shared by public men in all the Provinces, and approved by the experienced Statesmen of England. Moreover it found consistent expression in the agreement entered into at the now famous Quebec Conference. The festivities which followed the Conference were of the usual kind. Indeed such festivities appear to be an essential part of the British system. Tables were spread luxuriously in order that speeches might be made daintily; and those speeches were heightened in interest by the fact that the seal of secrecy was removed from the lips of the “high contracting parties,” who, during the progress of the conference, had been bound by confidential obligations.

At a public banquet at Montreal, besides the Delegates to the Conference, there were other guests of distinction, including the subject of our sketch. In acknowledging the toast given in his honor, Sir Richard took occasion to express his opinion on the subject of Confederation, with a special allusion to the preliminary means by which it should, or should not, be brought about. Without discussing the speech itself, we may be permitted to express the regret which most people felt, that His Excellency did not observe greater reticence on the subject. No words, however wise, could then alter the conclusions at which the Conference had arrived; but such words, whether wise or not, might weaken the effect of such conclusions, and consequently retard, rather than promote, the great aim of the Conference itself. We acquit His Excellency of any such intention, for he has elsewhere and on other occasions expressed his hearty desire to co-operate in the great work. “If I were to remain amongst you,” said His Excellency on a very recent occasion in reply to an address of the inhabitants of Truro, “If I were to remain amongst you, I would therefore feel it a duty, and one entirely consistent with my sense of right, to promote by all means in my power the accomplishment of those objects which Her Majesty’s Government has expressed its earnest desire to attain.”

The probability of His Excellency’s approaching departure from Nova Scotia has become a subject on which people of all parties concur in exhibiting unqualified regret. Nor is it for his own sake alone, or for the public loss which his retirement will occasion, that these regrets are expressed. The political rule of His Excellency has been alike popular and successful, and therefore on public grounds his retirement will be accounted a serious loss. But His Excellency has not contented himself with returning the smallest modicum of service for the position he fills. He has not been careful to calculate at how little sacrifice of convenience a community may be governed, or at what distant intervals the customary hospitalities may be dispensed. On the contrary, the important truth seems to have been ever present to the experienced mind of Sir Richard, that the Crown has social as well as political duties to discharge; that it has influences to exert as well as opinions to offer; and that, as the latter decline in prominence, or are mentioned only in whispers, the former increase in value, and become indeed almost of vital importance. Under the system of Colonial Government which now obtains, the Viceroy may be said to cease, personally, to rule, and to begin, personally, to reign. If this view be correct, it follows that the social duties of the Crown cannot be satisfactorily discharged without some sacrifice being made to the obligations which those duties entail. Selfish privacy and systematic exclusiveness form no part of the Royal instructions, and cannot, we venture to think, be practised with advantage to the Royal authority. His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor and the inhabitants of Nova Scotia seem to have been impressed with these convictions; and hence the regrets which mingle themselves with His Excellency’s approaching departure, regrets which take their rise in social causes, and cluster like pleasant memories about Government House, and those graceful and frequent hospitalities, to which the first lady of the Province has by her condescension given a more than usual charm. “Lady Macdonnell,” writes an enthusiastic local authority, “has endeared herself to all;” and should any one have the temerity to question his statement, he adds amusingly, by way of challenge, “that the fact will be disputed by no person living.” Having the advantage of some slight knowledge of our own, we unreservedly re-echo the sentiment of the chivalrous “Hallegonian,” and add, by way of emphasis, that no dissentient therefrom will be discovered in Canada.


“A Summer Session” in Canada is rarely wished for, and never welcomed. No one with whom we are acquainted, whether in or out of Parliament, harbors even a latent desire for such a gathering at such a season. The estates of the realm, when they are assembled for the “despatch of public business,” prefer cool accessories, a crisp atmosphere, and the flavor of a January frost. These tonic qualities elude the season of languor. They are vainly desired in the glare of summer, when the god of day appears to be burnished, and the year has just passed its glorious noontide. The truth is, heat and occupation do not agree with one another, for the presence of the former inclines us to idleness, and gives flavor to the rustic luxury of “thinking of nothing.” We can imagine more easily than describe the sensation of two hundred gentlemen, “great men” and councillors of approved wisdom, who, from habit and exhaustion, had turned their backs on all physical exertion, and their faces it may be to some “vast contiguity of shade;” who had hurried away from the scorching sunlight, the sweltering heat, the arid pathway of everyday life, in search of silent groves, or of “rapid rivers, to whose falls melodious birds sing madrigals,” where they might “lave and drink,” or lie in listless idleness, as in their boyish days, upon the grass, soothed by the “hum of bees,” or “the voice of birds,” or the soft music of gushing water. We can imagine the sensation of grim displeasure with which such persons would listen to the unwelcome notes, like discord amid melody, of the Royal Proclamation which summoned them to think and work, even though the summons may have taken its rise in grave and urgent reasons of State. In leaving his fields, whose harvests it was his hope to garner, the farmer would “cast a lingering look behind.” In putting away his fishing rods, and casting lines, and feather flies, the sportsman would probably weigh his personal pleasures against his public honors, and reasonably doubt which were the heavier. The trader, too, who hoped to point his holiday with health, would, with natural reluctance, exchange the crystal lake, the secluded waterfall, the “whispering trees,” for heated rooms and a dusty atmosphere, enlivened with the harsh accompaniments of choleric voices and angry words.

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,

  There is a rapture on the lonely shore,

There is society where none intrudes,

  By the deep sea, and music in its roar;

I love not man the less, but nature more.”

By way of compensation, it happens that at such a season the Representatives of the people do not, in their physical aspect, exhibit the discontent they are supposed to feel. On the contrary, whatever the state of their minds may be, the appearance of their faces is eminently exhilarating. On some the sea breeze seems to linger, with a kind of friendly fondness, while the flush of pink suggests the fact that they have passed through a mild process of gentle pickling, performed, it may be, near some cape, or within some bay, whose bluff or shore is ever bathed with the salt waves of the ocean. Others again look as if they had caught the tints of their own wheatlands, for their complexions are riotous with health and radiant with sunshine, rich and glowing like “red poppies in brown corn.” These peculiarities of person or feature are set off by and harmonize with the light and careless attire which gentlemen in Canada may wear at all times, and especially in the summer season, without remark or challenge. Thus when the “dog star” is in the zenith, when

“Noon glows on the lake

  Noon glows on the fell”

the Commons of Canada observe as one of their ancient and inalienable rights the privilege of dressing themselves as they please. The nomenclature of the “most ancient craft” is eloquently represented in style and texture. We may note the “blouse” and the “duster,” the “paletot” and the “zephyr.” Gauze and gossamer lend their lightness to the “pride” of the people, and supply a jaunty, as well as picturesque effect to their appearance, as when summoned by His Excellency they carelessly lean on the brazen bar of the Legislative Council. Under such trying circumstances it is satisfactory to observe that the “knights, citizens and burgesses,” look cool in their apparel, and it may be wise to avoid the more curious and less comfortable question whether they feel so in their persons.

If, however, the opening of Parliament in the “dog days” is associated with certain toilet peculiarities with respect to the rougher sex, it is for the same reason unquestionably alluring for its scenic attractions in relation to the gentler one. “Summer millinery” and “summer dry goods” are much better adapted to a gala occasion than are the “latest novelties” for winter service. We may, for example, with Byron, venerate that article of “mystical sublimity,” a “petticoat,” and yet decline to sympathize with his sentiments of latitudinarian indifference as to whether it be of “russet, silk, or dimity.” The stuffy first, and quilted second, must, if we may adventure an opinion on speculative subjects, give place to the dainty third. The fair raiment, with its mounting tucks and microscopic eyelets, white as a daisy and fresh from the clover fields, should and does shame its shadier rivals into dexterous concealment, while it reigns the unrivalled and not quite the unseen queen of the “jupon” family. In harmony with the change in the venerated vestment from woollen to cotton, from gleaming vermilion to vestal white, from the indistinct aroma of conservative camphor, to the perceptible fragrance of new-mown hay and grass laden with the breath of summer, may be observed other changes of a more conspicuous and striking description, all tending to add brightness to the ceremony of opening Parliament. Shimmering silks in rainbow variety meet and caress one another, and seem to whisper their satisfaction at being aired at such a ceremony. Floods of gossamer and lacelike raiment flutter and float in misty uncertainty, occasioning bewildering conjectures as to the particular person to whom the feathery drapery actually belongs. No doubt on such occasions the Council Chamber looks its best. The milliner and the tailor, the decorative artists of fashion, have done their utmost to “gild refined gold and to paint the lily,” and the result is that dress is attractively represented in its levity, as well as in its sobriety, in the lightness as well as the fulness of modern display. Had we no fear of being caught trespassing on forbidden properties, or might we moralize, without seeming censorious on questions dangerously intricate, we might perhaps hint that on the ordinary occasions of opening Parliament there is room for amendment in the “winter wear” of the ladies. State ceremonies, to be effective, should not be deficient in the harmony of their parts. Toilet contrasts should take their rise in the qualities of taste and elegance, and not only in those of comfort or convenience. Some sacrifice should be made to appearance; for it is scarcely seemly, for example, that the full dress uniforms of the Representative of the Sovereign, and of the great officers of State, should be met by those curious cariole costumes, not very unlike the antique toy figures in a child’s Noah’s ark, which appear frequently to find favor with ladies who deign to grace such ceremonies with their presence.

But besides the artistic attractions which contributed their aid to the opening of Parliament on the 8th of August, 1865, there were other circumstances which added interest to the scene. Peers of the United Kingdom were present, and received within the bar seats of privilege. The presence of the Admiral of the station, with his attendant officers of Her Majesty’s ship Liffey, gave additional attraction to the large and picturesque civil and military staff which, in crescent form, supports the throne. Altogether the scene was unusually bright and varied; and perhaps it was fitting that it should have been so, since it was the last occasion on which the Legislature of the United Province would be summoned to meet in the ancient capital of Canada.

Not only were youth and manhood, dress and beauty, fittingly represented in the Legislative Council on that August day of heat and sunshine, but the ceremony derived especial interest from the age and services of some, and especially of one, who occupied the chief seat in the privileged circle of those whose appointed places are within the bar, and immediately in front of the throne. Though of rare occurrence, it is not, we believe, without precedent for a Chief Justice to be in harness at the age of eighty-five. But we venture to think no other example will be found of such a dignitary, who has filled a seat on the Bench of one of Her Majesty’s high courts of justice for upwards of half a century, and who, on the day in question, was only enjoying the indulgence of a temporary leave of absence. At any rate, the only one we know of is the subject of our present sketch, the Venerable Chief Justice of the Superior Court for Lower Canada.

The Honorable Edward Bowen was born on the 1st of December, 1780, at the town of Kinsale situated on the south-west coast of Ireland, and to be precise, we may add in the ancient kingdom of Munster. He was one of three brothers, the eldest of whom, Lieut. Colonel Bowen, C.B., of the Madras Army, was killed at Seringapatam, and the youngest is a Post Captain, now on half pay of the Royal Navy, who earned no little distinction for gallant conduct in Her Majesty’s frigate Apollo. From the position of Kinsale on the map, we may easily suppose that any one having the good fortune to be born in that historical sea-port town, must very early have become acquainted with the quality of western breezes, and, perhaps without seeing them, have acquired an anticipatory relish for the British possessions in America. Certainly a westerly wind, combined with the aggressive rage of the Atlantic, must make themselves felt in that little town of Kinsale. No wonder the ancient family of de Courcey, the descendants of the celebrated Earl of Ulster, at present represented by the Barons of Kinsale, should enjoy the hereditary privilege of wearing their hats, or, we may be allowed to add, any other article of comfortable clothing in the presence of Royalty.

In this breezy and well-ventilated town the Chief Justice was born. His father, a doctor of medicine and a surgeon in His Majesty’s Forces, having died, while he was very young, in the West Indies, whither he had accompanied his regiment; the care and education of the young sons devolved wholly on their widowed mother. This lady removed from Kinsale to Drogheda, near Dublin, where she placed her sons at an academy which, at that time, was kept by and under the direction of two clergymen of the respective names of Crawford and Irwin. Nothing of personal interest transpired during the progress of Mr. Bowen’s education. On leaving school the question very probably arose as to the path of life which the young scholar should be counselled to pursue. The difficulty seems to have been smoothed by the sympathetic intervention of his great aunt, Mrs. Caldwell, the wife of Colonel the Honorable Henry Caldwell, Receiver General of Lower Canada, then a resident of Quebec, who invited Mr. Bowen to visit the Province. Being thus attracted, the subject of our sketch turned his back upon Ireland, and, after a passage of nearly three months, he arrived at Quebec on the 12th of October, 1797. Having left his native country at the instance of relatives in Canada, it was of course their duty to see that the career of their protegee should suffer no prejudice from their intervention. On his arrival, Mr. Bowen became the guest of Colonel and Mrs. Caldwell. In the summer of the following year he was articled to their son, Mr. John Caldwell, who was an English barrister as well as an advocate of Lower Canada. The legal profession, it would seem, presented but few attractions to that gentleman, for he relinquished the practice of the law and assumed in its stead the management of his father’s seigniory of Lauzon, where, having built extensive mills, he carried on the business of a merchant. The aversion of the principal did not extend to the pupil, for Mr. Bowen determined to prosecute his legal studies, and he had the good fortune to be able to transfer his articles of indenture to the then Attorney General, the Honorable Jonathan Sewell. While yet a student, Mr. Bowen was fortunate enough to be appointed Deputy Clerk of the Crown for Lower Canada, (the Clerk of the Crown in those “good old times” resided in England,) and in this capacity he accompanied the Attorney General to those parts of the Province where Criminal Courts were required to be held.

In May, 1803, Mr. Bowen was called to the Bar. In process of time he received a patent of precedence as King’s Counsel, the fact is noteworthy as being the first of the kind ever issued in Lower Canada. In 1807, he married Eliza, the daughter of Dr. James Davidson, Surgeon of the Royal Canadian Volunteers. Their married life continued unbroken for the long period of fifty-two years, for Mrs. Bowen died in the year 1859. We may add that there were issue of this marriage sixteen children, and that this number was exactly divided, for there were eight sons and eight daughters.

Promotion appears to have been rapid in those days, for on the preferment of Mr. Sewell, in 1808, to the office of Chief Justice, the subject of our sketch became Attorney General. He sat for the two following years as member of the Assembly for Sorel.

On the 3rd of May, 1812, Mr. Attorney General Bowen was appointed a Judge of the King’s Bench, and in 1849, he was promoted to the office of Chief Justice of the Superior Court for Lower Canada. The fact is curious and almost bewildering that there is still living a Judge who was a Judge more than fifty-three years ago; who was a Judge before war was declared by the United States against England in 1812; before Wellington won from Marmont the victory of Salamanca, and before Napoleon entered on that fatal campaign which ended in his disastrous retreat from Moscow. Nor is our amazement diminished by the additional information that for nearly forty years of that period this Methuselah of the Bench did not feel it necessary to absent himself from his duties or even apply for the customary three months’ leave of absence. Such facts almost tempt us to pause for a moment, and in a rule of three form, practice a little simple arithmetic. If a Judge after fifteen years’ service has a statutory right to retire on a pension of two-thirds of his salary, what amount of pension should he be allowed after fifty-four years of such service?

In 1823, Mr. Justice Bowen was summoned by Royal Mandamus to a seat in the Legislative Council of Lower Canada. In 1837, he was appointed to the office of Speaker of that Honorable House. During the fourteen years in which he sat in the Legislative Council, we believe he took his part in the discussions of the time, and from his own view of duty he sought to influence public affairs with wisdom and patriotism. After the reunion of the Provinces, he withdrew altogether from political as well as Parliamentary life, and gave his undivided attention to the more exact duties of his judicial office. He was, we should add, one of the members of that important Court, which was specially appointed for the consideration of the vexed Seigniorial Tenure question, and he has therefore the right of sharing with his judicial colleagues, the enviable honor of settling amicably, and on equitable terms, a question which in less favored countries has, we believe, never been adjusted without bloodshed or revolution.

The Judicial, like the Episcopal, office is, in Canada at least, associated with much physical hardship. Locomotion over the ill made forest roads is at best a very rough process. A Judge like a Bishop ought to know something of carpentry work, and it might be as well that he should possess at least a limited acquaintance with the wheelwright’s trade. A little nautical experience moreover might prove serviceable, for sometimes in “going the circuit,” “the Court” has to proceed in a skiff or a “jolly boat.” Thus it chanced to the subject of our sketch. Duty required him in the Spring of 1847, to hold a court at the village of Deschambault, situated on the banks of the St. Lawrence. The place is approached by two routes, one by the road and the other by the river. The former at that opening season was broken up in a way which can only be appreciated by persons who have resided in Northern countries; the latter was dangerous because the banks were fringed with ice. However, between the impassable road and the perilous river, “the Court” had no difficulty in arriving at a decision. The latter route was chosen; the conveyance was a rough open boat, and the landing had to be effected at night. The beach was covered with logs, and the logs were covered with ice. The officers and functionaries of the Court stumbled, and at different times fell, but their comparative youth enabled them to extract merriment from disaster. Not so the venerable Chief Justice; for though time had dealt gently with him, he was not proof against the physical consequences of physical rough usage. The injury he sustained in the “Judge’s procession” to Court was not only painful in itself, but it has in a greater or less degree been attended with inconvenient and disabling consequences.

In a life of even tenor and uniform labor, there are few points on which the sketcher can fasten. The moral landscape presents no crags, no bluffs, no obtuse features which the mind can rest upon, or the pen describe. The view may be very expansive, but as a champaign country, is level and uniform, and only noteworthy for the loveliness of its coloring and the abundance of its crops. In like manner a life of duty and usefulness most frequently manifests itself by the noiselessness of its course and the gentleness of its charities. Thus while the obligations of duty have imposed on the Chief Justice the necessity of administering the law, the attractions of taste have led him to find congenial recreation in the cultivation of those lighter studies which, while they inform the mind, refine and purify the character. Without dwelling on the influence which music and painting exert on those who, like the subject of our sketch, are gifted with a taste for both, we may note that the Chief Justice cherishes towards flowers an almost tender affection; he is, we believe, a patient as well as diligent observer of their habits, and with the skill of a botanist can number their tribes, and designate their varieties. His garden, though only a preserve of simple flowers is nevertheless, like the flush of beauty, rich with radiance:

Where opening roses breathing sweets diffuse,

And soft carnations shower their balmy dews;

Where lilies smile in virgin robes of white,

The thin undress of superficial light:

And varied tulips show so dazzling gay,

Blushing in bright diversities of day.

With such leanings towards the beautiful in nature and in art, we can easily conjecture that the love of home and friends, and the social intercourse which constitute the charm of both, must exert no small influence in the life of one whose career in Canada has been closely associated with the place of his earliest as it will probably be the place of his latest abode.

The Chief Justice has, we believe, always been regarded as a conscientious and painstaking judge, and, in matters of criminal jurisprudence particularly, the professional promise which attached to him as a barrister has, we believe, been fulfilled by him on the bench. That this promise was of unusual ripeness should, we think, be inferred from the fact not only that he was in his early professional youth marked for distinction, but that he was chosen and distinguished at a somewhat critical period of Canadian history and under circumstances that were really exceptional. When Attorney General Sewell, on the death of Chief Justice Allcock, succeeded to that high office, the Solicitor General, Mr. (afterwards Sir) James Stuart, ought, according to customary usage, to have been promoted to the office of Attorney General. Certainly, no question of qualification interfered with the preferment. The difficulty may have been political, and there is little doubt that it was personal too. Sir James Craig, the then Governor General, like Sir James Stuart, the Solicitor General, was a man of imperious will, who would allow no rival near his throne, and it is probable that any divergence on a question of public policy would be celebrated by such irascible functionaries without special reference to the qualities of forbearance and good will. But whatever the circumstances were which occasioned the slight to Mr. Stuart and the selection of Mr. Bowen, it is difficult to deny that the act included a compliment of no mean value to the gentleman selected. Thus it happened that the subject of our sketch became Attorney General, without passing through the earlier degree of Solicitor General, and he did so too when the latter office was held by one whose name fills a foremost place in the temple of Canadian fame. Of course no one denies that such early promotion redounds to the honor of the individual promoted; but it may fairly be questioned whether he or the State derive unalloyed advantage from such exceptional preference. A seat on the Bench is in Canada, as in England, regarded as the end of a career; and it may fairly be doubted whether it is for the advantage of an individual that he should too early in years arrive at the end of his professional life. It is probable that the wave of royal favor which lifted the Chief Justice to the Bench came full too soon. He had neither buffetted with the stream nor struggled with the tide. Indeed he had scarcely passed the shallows, when favoring fortune landed him on the shore. He did not patiently climb the ladder of distinction; on the contrary, he was lifted into dignity; and thus it chanced when he arrived at the age at which most men commence their careers, his, so far as competitive struggle was concerned, seemed to be finished, for the goal was reached beyond which there is little to look for in the shape of honor, and nothing to gain in the shape of fortune. No public functionaries are more highly regarded than our Judges, and none, we venture to think, are less adequately rewarded.

In his graceful old age, the venerable Chief Justice should, like one wearied with labor, have the right to fold his robes and lay aside his work, and in the calm and rest of the late eventide which precedes the nightfall of life should have leisure to muse peacefully on a career spent in the public service and devoted to the public weal, governed by one principle and signalized by one object, the desire to do justly and to judge “according unto right.”


People who neither knew, nor had enjoyed the opportunity of meeting, the Honorable Antoine Aimé Dorion, were prepared to find in him a gentleman of marked ability, great social tact, conciliatory manners and a well balanced mind. It was no slight compliment to his character that the wealthiest, largest, and most important city in the Province, should have chosen him for its representative when his name had been on the roll of advocates for a period of twelve years only. It is not, however, because he knows the value of courtesy, but because the habit appears to be natural and inherent, that Mr. Dorion observes in his intercourse with other men the scriptural maxim of being “courteous.” He may occasionally, in obedience to the law of conscience, or to the law of “philosophical necessity,” or from the nature of the case, consider himself bound to do disagreeable things, but then he does not aggravate the supposed necessity by doing them in a discourteous way. He may have and probably has, counselled unwise, perhaps harsh and unjust measures; measures too, which have, we think, surprised his admirers while they have scarcely advanced his fame; but then he has not imbittered acrid acts by a sharp and acrid manner. The weapon of offence with him, though it should be a dangerous, must be a highly tempered weapon. Others may choose a forest bludgeon, or a blacksmith’s sledge; he prefers the polished rapier, or the more delicate small sword. A deft gentleness seems to govern his manner of “fence,” and this wholesome habit may go far towards explaining the fact that difference of opinion has not apparently been degraded to personal enmity.

His opponents, even while they speak approvingly of Mr. Dorion, very commonly breathe something like a sigh as they sorrowfully remark, “ ’tis a pity he is a rouge.” The bad name, unfortunately, seems to have stuck, but the reason for the name is not easily arrived at. So far as we are informed it was not assumed by the party to which it is applied, neither do we believe that the principles of the party reflect its sanguinary hues. The truth is, no one cares to give it a local definition. It is terse and expressive, and for election purposes exceedingly serviceable to the party which flies the other color. The writer was amused at the explanation of a friend to whom he communicated his perplexities. “A rouge,” as a party phrase, thus his friend expressed himself, “is, as you know, of European origin, and neither the party nor the phrase possess any Canadian counterparts. In the District of Quebec the term is without significance, and it hurts no one. In the District of Montreal it is a term of convenience only, and means one who opposes Mr. Cartier.” The explanation, as a specimen of polite banter, is well enough, but it is insufficient as well as unsatisfactory. All know that Mr. Dorion does oppose Mr. Cartier, and all are also aware that in politics the former as compared with the latter is a liberal of somewhat advanced views, but all are not therefore prepared to admit that the two facts, being resolved into a color, should produce a “rouge.”

No doubt Mr. Dorion, and the party in Lower Canada which is associated with him, have had difficult cards to play. The honors of the pack for the most part have been counted by their adversaries, and it has been only now and then, by a stroke of address, that he and his friends have succeeded in winning the “odd trick.” It would not, we think, be difficult to discover in the exceptional play a partial reason for the exceptional luck. Each partner has considered his own game only, and consequently both have very frequently played, if not at cross purposes, at least with a dangerous tendency to lose. No attempt has been made, perhaps it was not possible to make it, by either to consider the state, much less the difficulties, of the other’s hand; and this practice on the part of both, of playing only his own cards, having been attended with disaster; has been followed by estrangement between the players.

Unfortunately the questions by which the Province has been agitated in later years have been of a sectional, rather than of a general, kind. Moreover, the issues raised have been local as well as sectarian in character, including the ascendancy of a particular race, and the prejudice of a particular church. To effect the former an increase was demanded in the number of English representatives in Parliament; and to accomplish the latter persistent resistance was counselled to the establishment of separate schools. One measure would increase the Protestant vote; the other would weaken the Roman Catholic Church; and both were therefore fondled with especial favor by that large political party in Upper Canada whose love of reform is only equalled by their fear of what they are accustomed to designate by a phrase less courteous than “Romanism.”

The party in the Western Province, one or two of whose clear and well defined objects of policy we have noted, was the accidental ally in Parliament of Mr. Dorion, and the party in Lower Canada which is said to act with him. That the alliance was very cordial or altogether a source of strength to the allies may be questioned; for a policy based on ascendancy, whether sectional, national, or religious, is not likely to be received with favor by the section, race, or creed, which it seeks to abase. The Western alliance being, as we venture to think it was, more convenient to the subject of our sketch for its numbers than for its principles, for its vote than for its aims, was, advantageous chiefly when employed as a weapon of offence, and only became embarrassing when used as an instrument of Government. The extreme liberal parties of the two sections of the Province were thoroughly united in their opposition to the quasi liberal Government of the day. They were divided, however, on the reasons for such opposition. Both had objects of their own to accomplish, but neither agreed on the means by which such objects should be brought about. Thus, as we shall see presently, pursuing a common warfare for separate interests, the two parties found it impossible to harmonize those interests when they were required to act together in a common Government.

Before Mr. Dorion was returned to Parliament, his name and family were well known in Canada. He had, therefore, in addition to his personal qualifications, a kind of traditional claim on the suffrages of his native Province. His father, the late Mr. P. A. Dorion, was member of the House of Assembly for Lower Canada, for the County of Champlain, and his grandfather, the late Mr. P. Bureau, sat in the same House for the County of St. Maurice. His uncle, the Honorable J. O. Bureau, the former member for the Counties of Drummond and Arthabaska, at the present time represents the de Lorimier Electoral Division in the Legislative Council; and his brother, Mr. J. B. E. Dorion, represents the united Counties for which his uncle was member. Mr. Dorion was born in the Parish of Ste. Anne de la Pérade, in the County of Champlain. He was called to the Bar of Lower Canada in 1842, and has on three successive occasions been elected Batonnier for the District of Montreal. He was first returned to Parliament for Montreal at the General Election in 1854, and continued to sit as one of the members for that City till the year 1861; when, having suffered defeat, he continued for several months in political seclusion.

Mr. Dorion, as we have said, first sat in the Assembly in the year 1854. His first act was to propose the Honorable Louis Victor Sicotte as Speaker of that House. The vote, by a large majority, resulted favorably for that gentleman. The new Parliament had been elected under circumstances of an unusually exciting kind; for it followed the summary proceeding of His Excellency the Earl of Elgin by which the former Parliament was dissolved. In addition to that high handed act, which produced anything but a soothing effect on the component parts of the dissolved Parliament; there were at that day stern old party questions which had disquieted a couple of generations, and which clamored loudly for settlement. Men were then separated by great differences of opinion; and party was respectable, for it was bounded by the land marks of principle. Still the vehemence, as well as the length of those hereditary contests had exhausted the combatants; for then, in the very crisis of the strife, when passion seemed to have made men hopelessly adverse, when it was difficult to yield and impossible to resist; the more sagacious and experienced statesmen agreed to silence contention by submitting to a compromise. That conclusion resulted in the formation of a coalition Government, to which a generous outside support was given by Mr. Hincks and the more moderate reform party of Western Canada. But the coalition of parties related only to the Upper Canada section of the Ministry; no change was made in the members who composed the Lower Canada section. Mr. Dorion therefore found his political relationship to the Government of the day unaltered by the alterations that had taken place. The force of opinion had prompted him to oppose the Lower Canada division of the Government, and the force of circumstances left him no choice but to continue his opposition. Thus was he obliged to ally himself with the extreme liberal party of Upper Canada, which had opposed the coalition. This accidental alliance was not without inconvenience to the parties to the contract. Mr. Dorion might vote with Mr. Brown for the absolute secularization of the clergy reserves; and Mr. Brown with Mr. Dorion for the absolute abolition of the Seigniorial Tenure; but neither of those acute politicians would be insensible to certain difficulties of detail that beset one of those questions, and both would probably see beyond their settlement some other and more entangled perplexities relating to one section of the Province, whose settlement would be inconvenient and dangerous. The part to be then played was the part of resistance; the time had not yet arrived when the slumbering antagonism would awake, and by the strong enunciation of sectional rights, imperil the harmony of a Government whose members had been united in opposition.

On the 14th April, 1856, on the motion of the Honorable John Sandfield Macdonald, which we may here observe was resolved in the affirmative, “that an humble address be presented to His Excellency representing that in the opinion of this House the time has arrived when the present system of convening Parliament alternately at Toronto and Quebec should be discontinued,” we find Mr. Dorion voting with the “yeas” and Mr. Brown with the “nays.” At the next session of Parliament, on the adoption of an address to Her Majesty to select “some one place for the permanent seat of Government for Canada” the two gentlemen last named voted together with the “nays.” Mr. Dorion, if we recollect right, stating that such selection being a matter of popular convenience, should be determined only by the popular vote. Mr. Brown, on the other hand, with sagacious prescience, insisting as he had done on previous occasions, that the time had not arrived when the selection of a place for the permanent seat of Government for Canada could be properly made. Whatever weight might be attached to the two opinions, it was found to be insufficient to influence the vote; for the House of Assembly, by a considerable majority, determined that the question was one of prerogative, which should, if possible, be decided by Her Majesty alone.

In the selection which would follow the vote much anxiety was felt. When five cities presented what were regarded as equal claims to consideration, four at least would necessarily suffer disappointment, since one only could be chosen. Nor was it matter for surprise that Montreal, being the most populous and the first commercial city of the Province, and moreover the only place that had been chosen by the Parliament of Canada for its permanent capital, should have had better reason than her rivals to articulate her dissent when Ottawa was proclaimed to be the city which Her Majesty had delighted to honor. It should not be overlooked that Mr. Dorion as a citizen of Montreal, and one who has always taken a deep interest in its welfare, may personally have sympathized in the chagrin generally felt by his constituents at the slight which they supposed their beautiful city to have received. Apart however from his individual feelings, and the obligations which we may presume he owed to them, it must be borne in mind that Mr. Dorion was a representative of Montreal, and as such he probably considered himself to be charged by his constituents with the duty of righting what he regarded, if not as a Royal wrong, at least as a grievous mistake. These, and other considerations akin to them, should not be lost sight of, for though they may not excuse, they will go far to explain what must be regarded as a grave error of statesmanship, which two years later the subject of our sketch did much to provoke. It was, we venture to think, a serious indiscretion for one in Mr. Dorion’s position, with his pure antecedents, his just influence, and his high promise, to injure the character and repute of the Canadian Parliament by seeking to disturb what the Queen, on the earnest petition of both Houses, guaranteed by an act of the Legislature; had graciously been pleased to settle. Men will probably reflect that as the life of society is longer than the life of individuals, so the character of their legislation is to a people of much greater importance than the place of their capital; one will attract universal respect, the other will only secure local accommodation; one is a question of repute, the other of convenience. Indeed, so insignificant does one seem, as compared with the other, that we ought to apologize for placing them side by side.

It is difficult to imagine that any question of legislation could be hedged about with greater solemnities than those which surrounded the proceedings relating to the selection of the seat of Government for Canada; for if discussions and engagements such as those offered no security, and were found to be insufficient for the purposes aimed at, it is difficult to understand what undertakings could be invented to which greater force could be attached. The Legislative Assembly however appeared to think otherwise. On the 16th July, 1858, on the order of the day being read for the House to go into a Committee of Supply, Mr. Dorion, seconded by Mr. Thibaudeau, moved in amendment that all the words after “That,” to the end of the question be left out, and the words “This House is duly grateful to Her Majesty for complying with the address of Her Canadian Parliament, praying Her Majesty to select a permanent seat of Government; but that this House deeply regrets that the city of Ottawa, which Her Majesty has been advised to select, is not acceptable to a large majority of the Canadian people,” inserted instead thereof. This amendment was negatived on a division, by a majority of eighteen. The stone which Mr. Dorion had loosened and set rolling was not likely to stop until it had effected mischief. On the 28th of the same month, Mr. Piché, seconded by Mr. Bureau, interpreted aright the popular sentiment, when he moved a declaratory resolution in the following words; “That in the opinion of this House, the city of Ottawa ought not to be the permanent seat of Government of this Province.” This resolution was resolved in the affirmative by a majority of fourteen. Historical knowledge and the experience of responsibility had taught the sagacious members of the “Macdonald-Cartier” administration, among many lessons of state craft, one important truth, viz., that the greatest advantage a Government can enjoy is to be considered to be, and to be, a reliable, trustworthy Government. Even as a policy, honesty is wisdom, for it is impossible to mention a country which has permanently gained by a breach of public faith. The vote was supplemented by other proceedings, to which it is not necessary in this place to refer, but it resulted, it was not possible it could do otherwise, in the resignation of the administration.

In the “Brown-Dorion” Government which succeeded to office, the subject of our sketch became Attorney General East. It is not desirable to dwell on what would have been the ludicrous, had they not, as we think, been the blameworthy transactions which for the next few days blemished our public proceedings, and introduced an ugly passage in our Parliamentary history. The question on which the new administration succeeded to power was for them the reverse of fortunate, but the way in which the succession was dealt with was scarcely fair. It was not opposed to constitutional usage for the Legislative Assembly to vote want of confidence in an administration, but it was opposed to all experience that such vote should be taken at a time when the members of the administration affected by that vote were necessarily and in obedience to the law of the land absent from their places in Parliament; when they were therefore officially silenced and shut out of court, disabled by statute and political necessity from explaining a paper, upholding a policy, or speaking a word. There are amenities which should be observed in politics as well as in literature, a disregard of which will be attended with confusion and followed by calamity. The quality of forbearance is of gentle origin and should permeate all proceedings, whether of the opposition or of the Government. Indian warfare is excusable only when practiced by Indians. The refusal to give or take quarter is, and should remain, the especial property of lawlessness. The crude varieties of savage strife should be sought for elsewhere than in those high courts and grand assemblies which take the British House of Commons for their model. It is true that the heat and flurry of debate, the dust and vapor of contention may excuse, for they seem not unfrequently to disqualify men from discerning clearly the duty they are sent to discharge, viz., to promote “the peace, welfare, and good government of the country.” The fact may be noted but not excused, for infirmity of temper is not admitted in justification of crime. An administration may, from the weakness of its principles, or the worthlessness of its members, be deemed to be undeserving of confidence. But in striking the ministers, care should be taken not to hurt the state. Before destroying an administration, the preliminary questions should be answered,—“By whom and in what way shall the Queen’s Government be carried on?” In the attainment of political objects, the means should be as pure as the end is praiseworthy, for if the former are conspicuous for unfairness, the fairness of the latter will be lost sight of. Men may patriotically unite as a party for the attainment of a principle, or men may selfishly unite as a faction to compass mere personal ends. An administration may succumb to either assault, but in one case its fall may result in benefit, and in the other it must result in misfortune to a state.

To turn from what may be regarded as a recital of truisms to the immediate subject of our sketch, we may observe that in the session following his re-election in 1858, Mr. Dorion resumed his familiar seat on the left of the Speaker’s chair, and face to face with his old political opponents, for the new Ministry commonly known as the “Cartier-Macdonald” administration, included a majority of the members of the “Macdonald-Cartier” administration. The transactions of 1858, to which we have referred, neither improved the temper nor chastened the debates of Parliament. Few regrets were therefore felt, and none were expressed, when, in the year 1861, the fourth and last session of its not very creditable career was brought to a close. In the elections which followed, Mr. Dorion lost his seat for Montreal. The new Parliament met on the 20th March, 1862, and on the 20th May following, the administration was defeated on the question for reading a second time the Bill respecting the militia. In the new Government known as the Sandfield Macdonald-Sicotte administration, Mr. Dorion, though not then a member of the Assembly, accepted the office of Provincial Secretary, and on the 20th June following was elected to represent the county of Hochelaga. He held his appointment of Provincial Secretary till the following month of October, when for reasons connected, we believe, with the question of the Intercolonial Railway, he resigned.

On the 8th May of the following year, 1863, on a question of want of confidence, the “Sandfield Macdonald-Sicotte” administration found themselves to be in a minority of five. As the Legislative Assembly had been elected when another Ministry was in power, the “Sandfield Macdonald-Sicotte” Government, as they had a perfect right to do, advised His Excellency to prorogue Parliament with a view to its immediate dissolution. In closing the session four days afterwards, His Excellency informed the two houses of his intention to ascertain in the most constitutional manner the sense of the people on the true state of public affairs.

After the prorogation, and before the elections commenced, a proceeding was resorted to which gave rise, at the following session, to much discussion and some animadversion. His Excellency was advised to make certain changes in the administration. The advice was followed by the retirement of several members of the Government, and the substitution of an equal number of other members in their stead. The change included among many others the withdrawal of Mr. Sicotte, and the succession of Mr. Dorion, to his vacated office. The Ministry as thus reconstructed was subsequently known as the “Sandfield Macdonald-Dorion” administration. The change of persons was not without significance, for it was supposed to represent, if not a change, at least an exaggeration of certain opinions. The moderate liberalism of Mr. Sicotte and his friends, was replaced by the extreme liberalism of Mr. Dorion and his friends. At the autumn session of that year, it was discovered that the reconstruction to which we have referred had added little strength to Government, and that it gave great umbrage to Parliament. Exciting debates, followed by close divisions, succeeded one another, nor was it difficult to observe that the administration was in serious danger of being defeated. Outside influences were consequently actively exerted to avert the menaced peril. Measures more adroit than commendable were resorted to. Personal address, cleverly clothed with persuasive arguments, was vigorously plied to neutralize opposition and conciliate support. One transaction, however, which resulted in a judicial appointment, was properly regarded as too serious to be amusing, for it seemed to stain the “purity of the ermine,” while it trifled with the independence of the house. At a very critical moment, when a single vote was of vital importance to ministers, a double discovery was made, viz., that a Judge of the Superior Court had accepted a pension, and that a vacancy had been occasioned in the Assembly, by the resignation of the member for St. Hyacinthe. These startling discoveries were supplemented by the appointment of the retired member to the Bench, whereon had sat the pensioned Judge. The transaction was regarded as a reproach to Government, while it clouded the fair reputation of one whose public career was theretofore spoken of with satisfaction, and pointed to with pride. So unusual a proceeding only escaped the censure of Parliament in a very full house, by a majority of two votes. In justice to the subject of our sketch, who according to Ministerial etiquette, as the Attorney General for Lower Canada, was responsible for the exercise of the patronage of the Crown in the law appointments of that part of the Province, we may add that the preferment of the member for St. Hyacinthe to the Bench would have been universally regarded with favor, had not the transaction been unhappily timed, and uncomfortably mixed up with close divisions in Parliament. Nor should it be forgotten that while, according to his view of duty and in the public interests, Mr. Dorion thought himself justified in advising the appointment of his friend, he did not take advantage of his own position, as the first law officer of the Crown for Lower Canada, to claim his right to succeed even to the highest judicial office in the Province, when that office became vacant by the death of Sir Louis Lafontaine. However much men may differ with him in opinion, it may be said of Mr. Dorion, as well as of Mr. Cartier, that neither of those high minded men have sought a covert for themselves from the storms of state. They have had the highest and most lucrative offices of the Province within their reach, but neither has stretched his hand for his personal advantage.

Another point, growing out of what was termed the reconstruction of the Ministry, in the face of a vote of want of confidence; to which the subject of our sketch was in an especial manner a party, provoked a good deal of angry discussion; yet notwithstanding the strongly put opinions of many members of the opposition, there is, we think, room for doubt whether the views sought to be established by them were wholly free from flaw. The question seemed to be treated as if it were a breach of contract, which concerned the Legislative Assembly alone. The rights of the Crown, if not wholly ignored, were scarcely referred to. In the exasperation of debate none paused to inquire, whether any vote of the Assembly could oblige the Crown to select certain individuals for its confidential advisers, and if it could not compel such selection neither could it restrain the Crown from changing the individuals selected. The transaction was one of prerogative, and the remedy lay in the hands of Parliament. In the case under review a simple vote of want of confidence in the reconstructed Ministry would most effectually have settled the question whether the Crown had exercised its rights in accordance with the wishes of the Commons. The new question is an interesting one, and deserves examination, for on its exact determination will, we think, depend the important distinction whether the Commons of Canada have the positive right to control the Crown with respect to the persons it may choose for advisers, as well as the negative right of withholding confidence from the advisers chosen.

The autumn session of 1863 was a session of severe debate and hard struggle. Having successfully resisted three separate votes of want of confidence, the Administration, wounded and out of breath, but not beaten, was enabled to advise His Excellency to prorogue Parliament. It was apparent at the next session that Ministers had been unable during the vacation to add to their strength, but it was also apparent that the Opposition were in numbers no stronger than the Ministry. The House may be said to have been evenly divided. The prospect of any new party government being possible under such circumstances was the reverse of encouraging. A coalition of parties seemed to be the only expedient. The attempt was made, and it resulted in failure. A party government, therefore, under the late Sir E. P. Taché, was formed; but it had not been in existence for three months when an adverse vote was taken in the Assembly, which was accepted by the Administration as a want of confidence vote.

The resolution out of which the vote arose was moved by Mr. Dorion; and it will be found in the Journals of the Assembly, declared that an irregularity had taken place in the year 1859 with respect to an advance of $100,000 made from the public chest without the authority of Parliament, and further, that the House desired to express its disapprobation of an unauthorized advance of a large amount of public money. A simple resolution, skilfully drawn up, declaring the impropriety of making unauthorized advances of public money, was exceedingly captivating, and was therefore well calculated to conciliate general support, and consequently to attract votes. On the abstract question raised by the resolution, there was probably very little difference of opinion, for no member of the Legislature would justify a system of “unauthorized advances.” The blow was well aimed, for, as it turned out, it was fatal. But on recovering from its effects men generally asked the question, was it fair? It was observed that the transaction had taken place under a former Government, and that five years had elapsed since its occurrence. It alleged no personal malversation. It recited a financial irregularity, but it did not declare a financial loss. The House seemed therefore to be only required to mark its disapproval of what, in the abstract, everybody disapproved. Why should there be discussion, much less a division, on a subject about which all were agreed? Mr. Dorion knew that his clever resolution, which was carried by a majority of two, covered a purpose it did not express; he knew that its adoption by the Assembly would directly show that the House was not under the control of the Government, and therefore that the latter did not possess the confidence of the former. Mr. Dorion would doubtless have been cognizant of the occasion when Lord Palmerston, to compel Lord John Russell and his Administration to resign, moved and carried, on a division in the House of Commons, an amendment to the title of a Government Bill. The Taché-Macdonald Government unquestionably remembered the occurrence too; for they accepted Mr. Dorion’s issue, by putting his own interpretation on the vote. Finding the resolution carried against them, Ministers accepted the decision as an indication that the confidence of the House had been withdrawn from them. What followed this vote is matter of recent history. Large minded and patriotic men became wearied, if not ashamed, of the littleness of Parliamentary Government. The crisis produced a calm, followed by a coalition of parties, which, however, did not include the subject of our sketch.

Mr. Dorion is a resident of and has on several occasions been returned as member for Montreal. The population of that important city is about equally divided between inhabitants of British and French origin. Though a French Canadian himself, Mr. Dorion might in one respect be regarded as a representative of both races, for as a speaker and a fluent master of both languages he has no superior in the Legislative Assembly. No matter in which tongue he chooses to address the House, his diction is pure and his manner equable. If he speaks in English, you will think him an Englishman with a foreign face. If he speaks in French, you will in like manner think him a Frenchman who has spent much of his life in England. He is one of those polished, human perplexities, which are rarely met with out of the diplomatic services of the greater States of Europe; for while his face is continental, his manner is the manner of the people whose language, for the time being, he thinks fit to use, for his speech never betrays his race. It almost makes one angry with jealousy to listen to a speaker to whom both languages are alike.

We can form only an imperfect estimate of a public man whose political life has been almost wholly passed in opposition, for it is easier to destroy than to create, easier to oppose a Government than to govern. Thus in the instance under review we can discover by the journals of Parliament what measures Mr. Dorion has opposed, but our search is less satisfactory if we attempt to find out what measures he has endeavored to advance. The questions however on which he has especially marked his dissent are the Intercolonial Railway, and in connection with it the Confederation of the Provinces, and the place chosen for the seat of Government.

Mr. Dorion’s strong opinions on the Intercolonial Railway very probably had much to do with the tangled correspondence, and the temporary estrangement which took place between the Canadian Government, and the Government of one of the Maritime Provinces. It is, we think, very difficult to regard the Railway in question in any other light than as a geographical, political, and commercial necessity. From a national point of view its importance cannot possibly be exaggerated. Mr. Dorion, however, was not obliged to regard the matter from any other point than his own, and since he is not supposed to favor a Confederation, he was not required to consider the question as a national one. It is not improbable, however, that without meaning to do so, Mr. Dorion’s opposition to the commercial project tended to advance the political one, and thus the misunderstanding with New Brunswick was not an unmixed evil. The delay which was deemed to be a misfortune may perhaps after all possess compensating advantages, for it may be questioned whether our fellow subjects in New Brunswick were not more intent in possessing a commercial union by means of a railroad, than they were of enjoying a political one by means of a Confederation.

With the exception of Ottawa, no city more than Montreal has benefitted by the selection which Her Majesty was advised to make of the site of the Seat of Government. At present the political capital is little more than an extreme west-end suburb of the commercial capital of Canada. It is situated on a river tributary to the St. Lawrence, whose waters not only bathe no hostile shore, but flow from their rippling source to their serene depths through the British American possessions of our gracious Queen. For twice twelve years has the Legislature of Canada been pursuing its costly journeyings from place to place, lingering here for a while to waste wealth, and there for a while to waste temper. Having reached the Royal Terminus, the Canadian “book of days” might note and comment on the double fact that the first session of its peripatetic pilgrimage was finished at Kingston, on the 18th September, 1841, and the last session at Quebec, on the 18th September, 1865.

Between then and now the public servants, like other people, have experienced the havoc of time. The greater number of those who were then living are now withdrawn from the scene. Those who remain, like the map of an uneven and tangled country, are more or less shaded and seamed with wrinkles. Change too, like time, has been fruitful in result. It has riven some ties, frayed some friendships, and made ragged many fortunes. Still as a class the public servants will welcome with satisfaction the arrival of a point in their journeyings, and the journeyings of the Legislature, from which it is consoling to believe there will be no departure. They will therefore, as in duty bound, make their best obeisance, and with becoming cheerfulness assent to what the people in their weariness demanded, to what the Parliament in its wisdom provided, and to what the Queen in her condescension willed. They will, moreover, endeavor to appreciate the attractions of the new capital, to see its political fitness, to study its local beauty, and realize, if not all which their fancy may have painted, and which their minds must have longed for, at least enough to enable them to



What particular sign of the zodiac may have arisen at the moment when the Hon. Mr. Campbell made his appearance among men, we cannot pretend to say. Were we a master of the “occult sciences” we might, perchance, make a curious as well as a learned communication. Unfortunately we are neither endowed with a magician’s knowledge, nor do we possess an astrologer’s “crystal.” We are therefore unable to read the horoscope of Mr. Campbell’s nativity, or determine which “house” of the twelve, was the “first in time” when he was born. In dutiful deference to science, there ought, we humbly think, to have been, at that interesting moment, a commotion among the heavenly bodies. Perhaps there was one. Wandering stars may have crossed one another with perplexing irregularity, and even the fixed ones, on the occasion, may have felt themselves unsettled, for the event was flecked with incidents the reverse of ordinary.

We learn that Mr. Campbell is a Scotchman by descent, an Englishman by parentage, a Yorkshireman by birth, and a Canadian by adoption. We learn further, that in 1822, when not two years of age, he accompanied his father, who was a surgeon by profession, to Canada; that he resided on a property purchased by the former at Lachine, near Montreal; which property was subsequently sold to, and is now owned by Colonel Wilgress, of the Royal Engineers. In that Parish Mr. Campbell received his earlier education from a Presbyterian Minister. Later in life he was sent to the Roman Catholic Seminary of St. Hyacinth.

Having resided for several years in Lower Canada, the subject of our sketch moved with his family to Kingston, where, under the tuition of Mr. George Baxter, his education was completed. In 1838 he passed his examination as a student at law, and was articled to the late Mr. Henry Cassady of the last named city; who, dying in the following year, he became the pupil of the Attorney General West, the Honorable J. A. Macdonald; and, his partner, on being called to the bar in 1843. The public gave an emphatic note of approval to this professional union, and the partners most certainly had the right to felicitate one another on the sagacity displayed by both of them in forming their partnership. Mr. Campbell thus shared with Mr. Macdonald the responsibility of the conduct of most of the important litigation in that part of the country; indeed, the firm was of such repute and the members of it so highly esteemed as to be almost always retained on one side or the other of every cause. They not only had the largest practice of the time, but it is scarcely an exaggeration to say they frequently carried down for trial at the Nisi-Prius sittings of the Queen’s Bench more causes than the rest of the profession in Kingston combined. In 1851 and 1852 Mr. Campbell sat as Alderman for one of the wards of Kingston. In 1857 he was made a Queen’s Counsel and a Bencher of the Law Society; and he was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Law of Queen’s College in the years 1860 and 1861.

Although we have deemed it to be convenient to string together some of the earlier facts of the personal narrative, it must not be supposed that sight has been lost of those peculiar combinations at which we hinted in the opening part of our sketch. The “accidents” which preceded and attended Mr. Campbell’s birth promised many advantages. It is not of frequent occurrence that so many fair auguries meet in one person. The points of peculiarity are valuable, and deserve noting. By descent Mr. Campbell inherited the persistent qualities of the Scot, by parentage the generous qualities of the English, and by birth the shrewdness of that Yorkshire tribe, which, belonging to neither race, seems to include the best qualities of both; with, however, some sharp additions that may, perhaps, give it advantages which neither of the other two separately enjoys. The magnetic influence, the peculiar fascination, the insinuating power, for example, which enables a Yorkshireman, being only the possessor of a bridle, and of course without doing violence to the law, to attract and become the owner of a horse, is a quality unique in itself, and one, moreover, to which the two other less instructed peoples can present but very clumsy claims.

To the insular advantages which attended Mr. Campbell’s birth, another may be added. In the process of transmutation from a native of the old world to a citizen of the new, it was his good fortune to reside in a Lower Canada Parish, and to be partially educated at a Roman Catholic Seminary, receiving, it may be presumed, in both places a slight brush of French polish, by way of adding grace and brightness to those sterling qualities of thought and feeling which he had already derived from British sources. Again, we have high authority for saying “there is something in a name;” nor can it be denied that the patronymic of the subject of our sketch is not only poetically attractive, but it is historically alluring. Young ladies in short dresses, with frilled remainders, are wont to be animated with a kind of wild ecstacy, as their tiny fingers tap the piano keys, and their sympathetic heads and eyes keep time to the unforgotten air of the “Coming Campbells;” nor does their interest in the name diminish as in subsequent years, when their frocks are longer and their frills shorter, they unravel riddles or read in verse through the mist of smooth charades, or poetic jingles, the stirring meanings with which the name may be and is cleverly associated. Historically, too, the great house of Argyle, the most conspicuous possessor of the name, has, with traditional consistency, encompassed it with a repute for wisdom. Interpreting aright the sagacity of “the Bruce,” the noble family of the Campbells, with whom, however, the subject of our sketch does not we believe affect to claim kinship, followed the example of their king in cultivating the alliance of the civilized and persistent lowland Scotch, rather than the alliance of those wild and passionate highland clans, which by war and rapine were rapidly fretting themselves to destruction. It was as necessary then as now that Government should be placed beyond the reach of personal caprice, and rest on settled foundations. The Lords of Argyle, and others of like discernment, recognized in the south-eastern portion of the kingdom the qualities of stability and order which they failed to observe in the north-western portion; consequently they gave to the lowlanders the protection of their arms, and received from them in return support to their government. Should any fanciful person, moved by the affinity or attraction of identical names, be inclined to seek for Canadian analogies to this passage of Scotch history, they will scarcely be repaid for the trouble of their search; still it is probable that a congenial conservatism does more generally prevail in that part of the province which is situated to the East, than in that part which is situated to the West of Kingston; nor is it unlikely that this stability of opinion may have exerted a wholesome influence in the mind of one who, like the subject of our sketch, is naturally inclined to respect authority, and thoroughly believes that established order is the prime ingredient of good government.

Kingston, the city of Mr. Campbell’s residence, was so called when George the third was King. Frontenac, the county wherein it is situated, was named after a chivalrous French Count, who represented Louis the fourteenth as Governor General of Canada. “Cataraqui”, the Division for which he sits in the Legislative Council, is named after what was once a famous tribe of a famous race, about which in its relation to the white man there must always hang the interest of a speculative as well as of a sinful story. Speculative, inasmuch as it relates to that unreckoned time, long, long ago, before the era of European conquest or discovery; when the red man was the feudal lord of the American soil; and sinful, because the touch of civilization has attainted the race, destroying its virtues, corrupting its innocency, and causing it to melt away “like the snows of the winters that are gone.”

But besides the historical associations, there is a vein of old fashioned thought pervading the locality, which reflects old fashioned habits, and is characteristic of old fashioned, but happily not forgotten opinions. The Midland District, as that part of Canada was formerly called, was perhaps beyond any other portion of the Province the favored ground whereon the glorious old race of “United Empire Loyalists” sought and found sanctuary. Where Virginians, Pennsylvanians, Carolinians, Georgians, New Yorkers, New Englanders, and others of the true Royalist breed, having followed the fortunes of their defeated but not dishonored flag, found safety for their persons, security for their principles, and respect for their opinions. Such men deserve better biographers than they have yet found, for through good and evil, through spoil and loss, through distress and suffering, through every misery but disgrace, they maintained their fealty to their slandered Sovereign, and the connection of the country with the British Crown. Truly they were a brave old race; men who despised casuistry, and kept their consciences clear. They declined to analyze the moral chrysalis of rebellion, and were not careful to discover the true transition period when men ceased to be traitors and became patriots. The accident of success did not change their opinions. What to their eye was once black to their mind remained black. To them, for example, George Washington was always, what he was once proclaimed to be, a traitor and a rebel, and all who aided him were in their opinion guilty of his crimes. Happily such sentiments have since then become softened by the intervention of distance, as well as by the influence of time. Still, in a qualified form, they are inherited by their children, for the passion of the old loyalty did not expire when their fathers died. Like the sacred flame of the Gheber, it has been trimmed and transmitted from sire to son; and, though it may no longer blaze like a beacon light on the hill, it nevertheless glows like live coals on the hearth. The altar is not broken down, neither are the ashes dispersed. The breath of violence is alone necessary to quicken the unquenchable flame, and cause it to spring upwards in tongues and swords of fire. It thus happens that such people as we have referred to, Canadians of native birth, descendants of the old Royalists of 1775, men who have neither been corrupted by wealth, nor made insensible by trade, form no inconsiderable portion of Mr. Campbell’s constituency. They are a quiet, resolute, single minded class, who, appreciating the blessings which they have inherited, are only concerned peaceably to preserve what they possess, and as peaceably to transmit what they have preserved. Such persons will avoid the cross ways and crooked paths of politics. By the aid of their traditional lore they will study the rule of right: for though chance may happen and though change may come, they know that righteousness is immortal.

Now, the subject of our sketch had enjoyed the opportunity of acquiring a personal as well as professional acquaintance with the people of his locality. Though at first he may have been comparatively unknown as a politician, it is not difficult to conjecture that the friend and professional partner of the Honorable J. A. Macdonald would, in matters of public concern, be supposed to profess opinions, if not absolutely identical with, at least not strongly antagonistic to those held by that high minded Statesman. The time approached when the test was to be applied, and when the subject of our sketch would be called upon to leave the seclusion of private life, and take his place among the public men of Canada. Under the act for rendering the Legislative Council elective, twelve Divisions were, in the month of September, 1858, required to return members to that Honorable House, the “Cataraqui” Division being one of the number. The city of Kingston had appropriated as its representative in the Legislative Assembly, the popular Attorney General West. What could the Division do better than secure for its member in the Legislative Council one who had been the professional partner and was the personal friend of the famous city representative; Moreover the political opinions of the former, if not identical with those of the latter, were sufficiently in accord to justify the belief that whether in the Government, or in the opposition, the two representatives would act generally together. Neither would, in a servile way, accept the opinions of the other, for both were too well instructed not to have formed his own. A requisition most numerously signed was presented to Mr. Campbell requesting him to become a candidate. The request was alike flattering and honorable to all parties, for at the time it was presented Mr. Campbell was so seriously invalided, that it was with great difficulty and only with the assistance of crutches he could move from his carriage to the hustings. The election was to him altogether satisfactory, for it resulted in his return by a triumphant majority. The vote polled by him exceeded the united votes of his two opponents.

Mr. Campbell’s opinions, like those of Mr. J. A. Macdonald, were known to be conservative, and they were suspected of being liberal. The knowledge and the suspicion were we believe equally well founded, for he belongs to a large and we think increasing family of Statesmen, who are obliged to employ a qualifying adjective when they would confess truly their political faith. Between two phrases, apparently identical, of “liberal conservative,” or “conservative liberal,” we prefer to apply the former to Mr. Campbell, since the noun and not the adjective controls, in our judgment, the inclination of his thoughts. Besides a similarity of opinion on many subjects, there is between Mr. J. A. Macdonald and Mr. Campbell a noteworthy similarity of manner. Thus, while observing or listening to one we are constantly reminded of the other. The frank, genial, cordial, outspoken style of the former appears to repeat itself in the latter. Both are alike free from littleness. Meanness is as foreign to their natures as it is to their practice. Indeed large mindedness and generosity of thought appear to pervade the characters of both, as if such qualities in their persons were interchangeable properties.

Whether Mr. Campbell would have won in the Legislative Assembly a place analogous to that filled by him in the Legislative Council is a question which we are not called upon to discuss. The social atmosphere of the two Chambers is by no means identical, for the urbanity and courtesy which are frequently dispensed with in one place may not be forgotten in the other. The rough speech which is sometimes tolerated and, the admission is made with regret, too frequently relished in the Commons; would in “the Lords” be fatal to the influence of the speaker. Indeed as a rule the members of the latter House have little taste for harsh speeches and none for impolite ones. Probably in their day they have seen their mischievous tendency; and having experimental knowledge derived from observation, they understand exactly how to appraise the value of indecorum. Mr. Campbell, with tact and felicity, at the outset of his Parliamentary career, appeared to catch the spirit, and make himself master of the temper of the House. He declined to weary it with the music of his own voice, and having little taste for elaborate discourse he did not multiply words without profit. With the skill of an exact observer, he waived any pretension to oratorical display, and generally fell in with the colloquial style of address which, after all, is the only style practicable in a small chamber; besides being the only style to which middle aged gentlemen are inclined to listen. Thus following the inclination of his character, and subjecting himself to a wise control, Mr. Campbell at once won his way to the ear of the House, nor was he long in arriving at the hearts of the members. In 1862, on the first occasion of electing a Speaker of the Legislative Council, the feeling in favor of the subject of our sketch was so general, that a veteran politician like the late Sir Allan Napier MacNab only obtained the election by a majority of three votes. At the next session, after the decease of Sir Allan, Mr. Campbell was by acclamation elected as his successor. It was not his fault that the honor was of short duration, for at the close of that session the office was voided by the dissolution of Parliament.

On the formation of the Taché-Macdonald administration, in March 1863, Mr. Campbell was selected, and it was a compliment to his standing and ability that he was so selected, for the highly important office, which he still fills, of Commissioner of Crown Lands. The appointment obliged him again to appeal to his constituents for re-election, when he was again triumphantly returned.

In his new character of a Minister of the Crown, and therefore responsible for the proper conduct of business in the Legislative Council, he had the relative advantage of being associated with the late Sir E. P. Taché, and in addition, what was of even greater importance, the personal advantage of previous success as a private member. The tact and discretion, the wisdom and address, displayed by him in his individual capacity, smoothed his way to influence when he was called on to act as a Minister of the Crown. It is to be observed that though a party man, Mr. Campbell has sought rather to discourage than provoke party strife. Like his predecessor Mr. Vankoughnet, he possesses in a marked degree the strength which is derived from silence, the power which habitual forbearance imparts. If the root of bitterness has any place in his nature, it is dexterously concealed; for it never flourishes in his speech, nor is it seen in his acts. When he has occasion, for example, to express strong opinions, he generally clothes them in the language of gentleness; or should he have to do severe things, the necessity as well as the justice of such severity will be alike apparent. He sedulously restrains all disposition to interfere curtly in the views of others, nor is he disposed, while criticising, to construe such views ungenerously. Unquestionably it is very agreeable to be brought face to face with what may be termed a Statesman-like manner; it is pleasant to observe the existence of refinement and a high civilization in the world of politics; it is refreshing even to look at a deliberative body in which the science of government is discussed with dignity and candour, with argument and research; it is agreeable to see it fairly and satisfactorily demonstrated that popular government is not inconsistent with the courtesies of life; that it is something more than an ill mannered struggle for place. It is especially gratifying to note the evidence of such facts in the first deliberative Chamber in British North America.

When Mr. Campbell was returned to Parliament the old party land marks had been removed, for the questions which had placed those land marks had been got rid of by the coalition settlements made in the year 1854. But as those apparently chronic difficulties were consigned to silence, there sprang up and reverberated throughout the length and breadth of Western Canada a new and more disquieting cry; a cry which expressed itself in sectional syllables and was rounded off with theological periods; for while the words used were “Representation by Population,” the meaning attached to them was protestant ascendency. Few among Western members could resist the fascination of the new cry. It became the test question at the hustings, and the prime point of the catechism with which the electors had been furnished wherewith to perplex those who aspired to be members. Candidates of advanced views, with strong local affections, and stiff religious animosities, could answer such questions with blunt fluency; but they were less easily got rid of by some who doubted the cry, and by others were not steady on the catechism. The Attorney General West, like a sturdy unbeliever, could not be taught to chime in with the one, or to repeat the other. He was probably of the opinion that such meteor lights arose from the marsh, and did not descend from the sky, that they were mere varnished gewgaws, more pretty than useful; better to look at than to wear. Mr. Campbell, on the other hand, if we recollect aright, in a mild way joined issue with his friend on this as well as on some other points. He thought the cry might be repeated, and the catechism learned without detriment to the scholar or hurt to the State; and therefore he assented to both. We cannot say whether his voice was strongly pitched, or whether his manner at the time was particularly hearty. In all probability they were both, for it is not his practice to say either more or less than he means. The enquiry, however, is of little importance, for, like the “I will” of a maiden on her marriage morning, the obligation is equally binding whether the words are whispered in the chancel, like a sigh, or whether they are rattled throught the rafters, like an oath.

But though our memory is defective on the particular matter to which we have referred, there is another and a higher and at the same time a more recent question about which we can be more emphatic. Mr. Campbell is an ardent advocate of the project of a Confederation of the British American Provinces. He was a member of the Quebec Conference, where he met in Council the delegates from the Maritime Provinces, and where, as elsewhere on all fitting occasions, he has advocated the policy, and sought with earnest and persistent argument to advance that grand national project. On this point we venture to think no discouragement will quench his ardor, and no delay will extinguish his hope.

Did we possess, or could we make use of the “horoscope” to which we have already made allusion, or could we add a seer’s foresight to our imperfect knowledge, then would our pen become a torch, the flame of which might shed satisfactory light on a career, whose commencement was self reliant and pure, and whose course has been consistent and without stain. Still we venture to think that the future of the subject of our sketch is by no means wrapped in shadow. The rays reflected from the sphere of duty fall not on the past alone; they shed some light on the future also. But whether that light grows into daylight, or shrinks into darkness, depends not only on the purity of its parts, but on the constancy of those whose duty is to watch and tend it. Popular caprice has done as much as, perhaps more than, personal variableness to debase to a mere traffic the grand passion for power; and thus to make Government the sport of accident or chance. The reputation of a country cannot be separated from the reputation of its rulers, and both should be, and we believe are, very dear to the people of Canada. Feeling and thinking thus, they will welcome with unalloyed satisfaction any addition to the ranks of their educated statesmen; and in appropriating what they deem to be pure, and know to be valuable; they will, it is scarcely presumptuous to say, place in their sacred treasury of service the name and fame of the Honorable Alexander Campbell.


In the autumn of 1860 the writer was loitering on the deck of one of the Canadian steamships at Quebec, conversing with a lady whom on her arrival from England he had gone expressly to meet. Indicating by a gesture a gentleman of benevolent and clerical appearance, the lady remarked, “That is the Reverend Dr. Leitch, a Presbyterian Minister, who has lately been appointed to the office of Principal of Queen’s College, Kingston.” After a further observation or two, the lady, with some earnestness of manner, added, the Doctor was certainly “a very nice, and she felt sure must be a very good man, for he was kind in manner, cheerful in disposition, and apparently as happy as a Christian ought to be.” Now we believe that the lady in question had not previously had the opportunity of becoming personally acquainted with any one in holy orders except the clergy of the Church of which she was a member. We also feel tolerably certain that until she heard the Reverend Doctor preach on board of the Steamship, she had never been present during the celebration of Divine Service elsewhere than in churches of her own communion. Moreover she had evidently been beset with the impression that Presbyterian divinity was of a sad and dreary type, cold in its temperature and unattractive in its forms. She was apparently impressed with the notion that Presbyterian divines in harmony with her idea of their divinity were men of stern aspect, who, having missed the reflection of the Divine benignity, had only preserved the photograph of the Divine frown.

Now the Reverend Dr. Leitch in no respect corresponded to the Presbyterian type which her fancy had sketched. His manner was neither harsh nor stern. His appearance was neither knotty nor severe. Charity and courtesy seemed to abide with him, and their presence was as apparent in his conversation as it was conspicuous in his character. Nature moreover had been affluent in her gifts, for his appearance was irresistibly attractive. He looked not only like a good man, but he looked like a holy man. He carried his calling in his face; none would doubt his office who saw his countenance. Unalloyed happiness seemed to dwell there, as if it reflected the character of one whose soul, like the soul of the Psalmist, found its chief pleasure in blessing the Lord and remembering His benefits. Judging from his appearance only, Dr. Leitch might have been supposed to possess bodily health, as well as mental peace. There was nothing to inform the uninstructed eye of the extent to which the suffering body had been made subservient to the controlling mind; neither could one suspect that behind that vapor of spiritual radiance, bright with the peace of God, which, like an influence, seemed to surround his character there lay a load of misery which no physician could remove. Yet so it was: in his boyhood a serious fall had deranged his hip joint, and resulted in permanent lameness. In his manhood he was the subject of heart disease, which, after years of suffering and in the mid career of usefulness, terminated his valuable life.

The gifted author of the Heir of Redclyffe would probably have discovered in the subject of our sketch congenial elements for the creation of a hero, including the moral and physical qualities with which, with artistic cleverness, she succeeds in making affliction glorious; for she appears to possess a special relish for extracting moral perfection from personal defect, for making the bed of pain the forcing house of virtue, and for tracing spiritual excellence in manhood to a physical accident in youth. Other conditions being equal, an unhinged hip or an enlarged heart might, and certainly would, by that gifted gentlewoman, be made as available for poetic and dramatic uses, as a dilapidated spine or disordered lungs.

The authorities of Queen’s College and the members of the Scotch Church generally congratulated themselves, and not without reason, on the gain which the causes of science and religion had received when, in answer to their earnest invitation, Dr. Leitch assumed the office of Principal. The regrets which followed his departure from home were only exceeded by the welcomes which awaited him on his arrival here. The laments of his countrymen in Scotland were answered by the rejoicings of his countrymen in Canada; for while the former had difficulty in putting up with the loss, the latter had none in appropriating the gain.

To a conscientious man, and one moreover who possesses ability as well as taste for the work, the education of youth must be intensely attractive. Apart from the fact that the calling itself is and must necessarily be a sacred as well as an honorable one; there is in it the flavor of immortality, a flavor more exhilarating than mere ephemeral fame, in the reflection that in some special department of the mint of knowledge, a process is going forward by which the teacher is reproducing in the pupil the coinage of his own thought, and creating, so to speak, from some unexplored vein of truth a sterling currency stamped with his own cherished opinions. Intellectual distinction as a mere personal quality would scarcely suffice to reconcile a teacher to his ill-requited work; but when we associate with the accident of individual distinction, the creative power of generating and transmitting thought, we supply an incentive to work by bestowing upon the worker not only the solace of contemporary admiration, but the earnest of posthumous fame.

The Late Principal was born in 1814 in the town of Rothsay, in the Island of Bute. He received the elements of instruction at the Parish school. At the age of fourteen, by falling from the mast of a yacht, he met with a serious accident, by which he fractured his hip joint. The accident resulted in painful and protracted confinement. For the period of eighteen months he was unable to leave the house, and when at length he did so, the distressing discovery was made that he was hopelessly lame for life. In the midst of dreariness and suffering he became an ardent and severe student, applying himself especially to those sciences which are based on mathematical truth. His education was subsequently continued at the grammar school of Greenock. At the age of eighteen he entered the University of Glasgow, where, in 1836, he graduated as a Master of Arts. During his arts course, as may readily be conjectured, those branches of knowledge which had attracted his boyhood were pursued with laudable industry and noteworthy success. He obtained the highest honors in the departments of mathematics, and the physical sciences, which his University could bestow. When a student he lectured on astronomy, and for several years he acted in the University observatory as assistant to the late Professor Nichol. He always cherished an ardent love for astronomical pursuits, and this love prompted him, when at Kingston, to promote with all the warmth of his character the usefulness of the observatory which had been established there. In connection with this subject we may mention that he published his carefully prepared work “God’s Glory in the Heavens: or, Contributions to Astrotheology,” a work which, at the time of its appearance, was, we are informed, most favorably noticed by the ablest reviewers. We may add that when a student at Glasgow he was also a lecturer in mathematics in the Andersonian Institution of that city.

In 1838 he was licensed as a preacher of the Church of Scotland by the Presbytery of Dunoon. In 1839 he was appointed assistant minister of the Parish of Arbroath; and in 1841 he received a similar appointment to the Parish of Kirkden, in the Presbytery of Forfar. In the memorable year of 1843 he was, by the Earl of Leven and Melville, presented to the Parish of Monimail, where, after the usual forms, he was ordained by the Presbytery of the bounds of Cupar in Fife. Of this parish he continued to be a minister until the year 1859, when he was selected by the Reverend Dr. Barclay, and Alexander Morris, Esq., the present member of the Legislative Assembly for the County of South Lanark, from a list of many names, for the high office of Principal of the University of Queen’s College, Kingston. The deputation were complimented, and with good reason, on the choice they had made; for the gentleman chosen was well known in his native country not only as a man of science, a ripe scholar, and an earnest minister of the Scotch Church, but for the active part he had taken in the controversies of the time. As Convener of the Committee of the General Assembly on Sunday Schools he was brought into contact personally, or by correspondence, with all the ministers of his Church. Thus were his clerical brethren made cognizant of his wise and zealous management of the machinery by which the work of sacred education was controlled. When his departure from Scotland was determined on, the tide of regret rose, and, shaping itself in the tones of entreaty, he was besought by many, who loved and admired him, to reconsider the step he was about to take, and, if not too late, to give to the Church of his country the benefit of those talents which were then consecrated to the service of his Church in Canada.

During his residence in Scotland his devout mind had reverently reflected on the union which exists between science and religion, a union which modern unbelief seeks assiduously to dissolve. Knowing to what extent human thought is influenced by the periodical literature of the day, he became a diligent contributor among other works, to Kitto’s Journal of Sacred Literature, McPhail’s Magazine, The Edinburgh Christian Magazine, The Scottish Quarterly Review, and Good Words. Besides works such as these, wherein he is said to have discussed with singular clearness many of the most important theological questions of the day, he was the author of certain articles on the miracles of our Lord, in which he controverted the opinions of the late Reverend and learned Dr. Wardlaw on that subject. Thus the question of miracles, as discussed in modern times, had received from him much anxious study,—so much, that at the time of his death he had, we believe, in preparation, if not ready for the press, a work on the subject of a very exhaustive character. Whether such skilled labor will ever see the light, we cannot say. Perhaps, like other fragments of scattered or ungathered thought, it is destined to lie unnoticed for a time to be reverently garnered after “many days.”

On leaving Scotland, his Alma Mater conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Divinity. The act was complimentary to the individual as well as to the institution over which he had been selected to preside. Thus laden with the honors of his College, and with the good wishes, as well as with the regrets of his countrymen, the learned Doctor arrived in Canada. Little time elapsed before he was formally installed in his new office; for on the 8th November, 1860, he took the chair as Principal of the University of Queen’s College. The welcome extended to him by trustees, professors, and students was of the most cordial kind, and the friends of the College in congratulating him, congratulated one another also, on the satisfactory fact, that by the addition of the Principal, the new staff of Professors was rendered thoroughly complete. The inaugural address was described as “most able, eloquent and interesting;” and we can easily believe the appended information that its passages of eloquence were rapturously acknowledged by spontaneous and irrepressible cheers.

By an ecclesiastical law, Dr. Leitch, as Principal of the University, was entitled to a seat in the Presbytery of Kingston as well as in the Synod of the Scotch Church in Canada. It occasioned no surprise, therefore, when, the latter met at Toronto, in the year 1862, that he was unanimously elected Moderator. In virtue of his office in Queen’s College, he had a seat in the Senatus of the University of Toronto, of which University he was subsequently appointed an Examiner.

It was about this time that the attention of Principal Leitch was especially directed to the subject of University education in Canada, with particular reference to what he considered to be the unfair monopoly of privilege and revenue on the part of the University of Toronto. Our space will not permit us to refer to his plans of amelioration and amendment, much less to enquire whether they were beneficial or the reverse. Unquestionably they possessed certain features which, from a popular stand point, were highly attractive, for they included, we believe, some sort of scheme of decentralization, by which Collegiate education should be carried to the various sections of the country, instead of being accumulated at one great centre. While however he was giving his thoughts to the general question of University education in Canada, there arose in the very heart of the College, of which he was the Principal, some irritating and vexatious subjects of dispute; which were aggravated by the circumstance that they were not free from personal animosity. Into the merits of those disputes, we have neither space nor inclination to enquire. That they embittered the latter days of the subject of our sketch, there can be no doubt; neither can there be any doubt that before the shadows fell upon his intellect, and the powers of darkness overtook his life, all disquieting remembrances had been laid at rest, all offences done to him by others had been forgiven. He died as a Christian man ought to die, with faith towards God and in peace and charity with all mankind. In the quaint and reverent words of his pious countryman, Farley, we not inappropriately conclude our sketch:

My light from whence it came, mounts still on high

Unto the source of light that’s never dry,

Like as the rivers to the Ocean run,

From whence their secret fountains first begun;

Like as the stone doth to the centre sway,

So to the spheres my light still makes his way.

No joys, delights, and greatest weights of gold,

Nor pampering pleasure fast our souls can hold.

The panting soul rests not, until it see

His maker God, a Tri-une Deity.









Such are the words chiselled on the parapet over the “Tube Entrance” of the Victoria Bridge, Montreal. On the stone lintels of the “Chief Entrance,” above the roadway, the following inscription appears:




The words of both inscriptions are severely simple. So much so that we fail at first sight to see more than six names, unobtrusive in their forms, with little music in their syllables, and with no pre-historic interest in themselves. We read them, for they cross the pathway of our journey; but it is only by a comparatively slow process that we take in their meaning, or appreciate, much less apply, the three truths which they record. Incidentally, the record invites us to behold a structure, huge and appalling; which, in obedience to the plans and combinations of the wise men whose names are recorded thereon, rose like an exhalation from the deep, a marvel in a marvellous age. Directly, it informs us in unadorned, unimpassioned, mere matter of fact language, that this wonderful creation, the favored offspring of science and of art, was built by one man, after the designs of two men, and in conformity with an agreement with three men. These are all the particulars which the inscription on those lintels afford.

It is no part of our present purpose to speak of the sagacious men who, in the interests of commerce, projected the Bridge, of the far seeing men who, in the interests of the Province, promoted its erection, or of the scientific men in accordance with whose plans it was eventually built. All should be regarded with honor. Some will be remembered with reverence, for they were (it is sad to be obliged to use the past tense) “famous men,” “whose bodies are buried in peace,” but whose names will live for evermore. The Victoria Bridge is, in Canada, their immortal monument; whereon, in letters imperishable, their services “are leaded in the rock.”

“Ring in the valiant men and free,

   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;

   Ring out the darkness of the land,

 Ring in the Christ that is to be.”

What the bells of Queenborough church may have said, or what the echoes of Queenborough hamlet may have answered, or how James Hodges, in his boy days, may have interpreted their language, we have no means of discovering. Those village bells were probably the chief music of his birth place, the choicest music of the country side. The meadows knew their festive melody as it brushed over them; the cherry blossoms knew it as it nestled in them; the hedge rows, and hop vines, and wheatlands knew it, as it skirmished among them. And the music of those bells fell softly like the dew of consolation on the bosoms of the Thames and the Medway just where their bright waters meet, and it floated gaily across the Swale, that small arm of the sea, which separates Sheppey from the coast, only to lose itself in the undulations of the mainland of that most glorious garden county, the old Royal county of Kent.

In his daily walk to school it is probable that those notes may have addressed themselves in severer tones to the mind of James Hodges. Perchance he did not receive them as pretty messengers merely, of sylvan beauty, fresh from the fabled deity of the forest. They were, who shall gainsay it, accredited heralds to him, charged with the duty of announcing things to come. They were sharp monitors, offspring of steel and brass, heirs of the mine and the furnace, near akin to the anvil and the forge; befitting pursuivants of a powerful age, who from their stone abiding place, in nervous accents, and with iron tongues, proclaimed to stalwart and strong hearted youth, the glories of the approaching time; when stone, and iron, and brass, the hard and repellant parts of creation, should become the playthings of science; when the hidden nobility of humble men should become apparent; when a new order of greatness should be acknowledged, and when the stamp of a new rank should be affixed to their credentials, whose patent of precedence derives from Tubal Cain.

“Ring in the valiant men,” the “noticeable men,” the calm, thoughtful, generous men, who, in virtue of their moral and intellectual strength, have bravely combatted with material things, and made those things subject to the higher law; who, without violence to man, have discomfitted the violence of nature, and made her amenable to the conditions of art; who have grappled with the vagaries of the seasons, and baffled their terrors by the restraints of science.

“Ring out the darkness of the land,” make clean the page for the chronicle of a new civilization for the reception of new records, new services, and new sacrifices. Make space at home, make space abroad for new monuments, for monuments to religion, to peace, to commerce, to convenience, to science, to philanthropy, to charity, to mercy. Make space “for larger hearts and kindlier hands;” for their work and service, whose undazzled eye can explore the present, and look into the future, whose thoughts of wisdom, gathered, it may be, not far from the source of glory, being resolved into action can girdle the earth with swathing bands of kindness. Make space for men out of whose hearts of love and reverence there springs a devout belief in the Divine purposes of science; and who are persuaded they neither do despite to their holy faith or “charge God foolishly” by associating those purposes with the “Christ that is to be.”

The subject of our sketch, under circumstances the least favorable, would not have been a drone in the human hive; still, the sweet “uses of adversity” may in his case, as in many others, have discovered a wealth of character, which the smiles of fortune would not have called forth. If we place even a very moderate allowance of truth to the credit of phrenology, physiognomy, and other kindred sciences, it will suffice to give force to the speculations of those who look for and expect to find harmony between the physical and moral features, between the intellectual and corporeal parts of mankind. Nature is never uniform and rarely affluent of her gifts. She commonly withholds more than she bestows. It is only now and then we are permitted to look at her more finished work, for it is only now and then she appears to expend care on her craft by perfecting the specimens of her skilled labor. Exact proportion is the joy of the poet, and the delight of the physiologist; and, theory apart, the eye, the mind, and the imagination receive no inconsiderable satisfaction when brought into contact with the higher forms of human perfection. If however, such outward attractions are accompanied with corresponding moral qualities, if the casket and the jewels are worthy of one another, then we realize the force of the words—

A combination, and a form, indeed,

Where every god did seem to set his seal,

And give the world assurance of a man.

Again it would almost seem to be a law of the animal creation, that large creatures should, comparatively speaking, be gentle as well as generous creatures. They are said to be less aggressive, and they certainly are more easily entreated than animals less encumbered with perishable substance. Examples confirmatory of this view will, on reflection, readily occur, but they need not be cited in this place. The observation is made because it seems to possess some application to the case before us. Mr. Hodges, taken all in all, is commonly referred to as a fine type of an Englishman. Physically he possesses size, height, and strength, which are combined, there can be little doubt, with prodigious qualities of endurance. Calm and serene in temperament, he carries in his face the marks and signs of that indomitable quality of courage, which is born of thought, allied to strength and impelled by virtue, which no force can intimidate and no disaster appal.

In more senses than one Mr. Hodges may be regarded as a representative man, for he belongs to that class of self-reliant self-made men, the history of whose ability and success have beautified the last half century with noteworthy memoirs. We know not in what English hamlet “his rude forefathers” may sleep; perhaps the village of his birth was the place of their abode, and perhaps, too, could their individual history be traced; they, as “Men of Kent,” may have claimed their accustomed post of privilege and honor in the van of the Saxon armies. Be this as it may, it is, we think, probable that the subject of our sketch, like the late Mr. Cobden, belongs to what Mr. D’Israeli, with great felicity of expression termed “the pure middle class” of the English people. It is true that fortune did not appear to “smile on his humble birth,” for such smiles were unnecessary, since the chariness of fortune was avenged not only by the generosity of nature, but by the energy of the man and the requirements of the age.

With the establishment of Railways a new era dawned on the world; new needs were created, and men especially suited to such needs were looked for more anxiously than they were found. Besides engineers, contractors were required; and besides contractors; a class of men were absolutely called for, who, combining the theoretical knowledge of the former with the practical skill of the latter, might successfully carry out the plans of both. Foremost of the last named class is Mr. James Hodges. It must not however be supposed that the prominent position at which he has arrived was reached without labor, and labor moreover of the most severe and exacting kind. After completing a grammar school education, he was fortunate enough to miss a Government appointment which some influential friend promised to obtain, but failed to secure for him. With patience somewhat exhausted, but with characteristic determination, he cut the “painter” by which he had been moored to false hopes, and he laid his plan of life anew. On the healthy principle of self reliance he determined to be, if not “the Rudolph of his race,” at least the founder of his own fortune. At the age of seventeen he apprenticed himself to a builder at Brompton. We quote from an article in the Illustrated London News of the 22nd September, 1860.

“Having served four years in this trade he commenced his railway practice under Mr. John Rowland, the agent of Macintosh, the contractor of the Greenwich Railway, his first essay in Railway work being the centering for the arches. After this he went to Shard, and, at the age of twenty-two, had charge of the building of the union-houses of that place. These finished, his next work was at the Shakspeare Tunnel, Dover, which he superintended at first as the agent of the contractor, Mr. Rowland; but on his death Mr. Hodges assumed the charge of the work, in concert with the resident engineer of the South-Eastern Railway; and it is not a little remarkable that every ounce of gunpowder used in the large blasts was deposited in its place by his own hands. During the progress of this work he attracted the attention of Sir Wm. Cubitt, then engineer-in-chief of the South-Eastern Railway, to whom Mr. Hodges has frequently stated he is more indebted for his subsequent rise and progress in his profession than to any other man. The pupil in this case is a worthy disciple of a very worthy master.

It was at this time that a curious resolve was made by young Hodges, and it was this, that, if spared, he would work until the age of thirty-five for whatever amount of remuneration others might think his labor worth, but that after that time he should name the price at which his services were to be obtained. And to this end he steadily kept on progressing, so that by the time this period of his life was reached—having superintended the driving of the Abbotts’ Cliff, Seaham, and Archcliff Fort Tunnels, and the erection of the Shakspeare Viaduct, along with the blasting of the Roundown Cliff and several other works in that neighborhood, as well as the erection of swing bridges at Norwich, Needham, and Somerleyton, as the agent of Sir Morton Peto, Bart., with whom about this time he became acquainted—his resolve was no castle in the air on his part, but a firm determination to work up by hard industry and integrity to the point which he himself had chosen, and which he attained within the time he had himself specified. A handsome testimonial from Sir William Cubitt at the termination of their business relations as to his worth gave him a fresh start, as it were, in his upward tendency, and the next appointment he filled was that of resident engineer, under Mr. G. P. Bidder, on the Norfolk Railway. The trammels of daily routine, and on so limited a scale, were not in consonance with his feelings, and, retiring from that position, we next find him as the engineer of the Lowestoft harbour, after which, in connection with Mr. James Peto, the brother of Sir Morton, he contracted for and built fifty miles of the Great Northern Railway, on behalf of his principals, Messrs. Peto and Betts. After so many years of active life, under which his health suffered to some considerable extent, Mr. Hodges determined on retiring into private life, and, with that view, purchased a small estate, near Bagshot, Surrey; but no sooner had he completed his arrangements, in 1853 for enjoying his otium cum dignitate, than the organization of the Grand Trunk Railway Company, with its Victoria Bridge across the St. Lawrence, afforded him, as the agent of the contractors who had undertaken the work, the opportunity of handing his name down to posterity associated with an undertaking which will last through all time. Such an opportunity was not to be lost sight of by the active and genial temperament of such a man, and it was at once embraced.”

Numerous, but not dissimilar were the avenues of success in which the subject of our sketch had already walked. Moreover their paths were pleasantly strewed with personal satisfaction, as well as lightened and made musical with popular applause. Neither were they undistinguished in the chronicles of science. Learned men had taken note of them, and narrowly marked his career who trod them with the confidence of wisdom and the assurance of success. Those lines on the hill of science converged towards one point, where the traveller who climbed successfully would not only find himself on the road of distinction, but be brought face to face with the Temple of Fame. Thus it was with Mr. Hodges. His march had been the march of industry and success; but others had travelled with him thus far, and he was therefore compelled to be content with divided honors. Now, however, his quiet home in Surrey was visited with a temptation which charmed while it flattered him. Its lovely seclusion as well as the retired life on which he had resolved, were alike abandoned. He gave himself afresh to work, to science and to fame. The view which now lay before him was supremely attractive, not because it was wholly foreign to his experience, but because it was an exaggeration and an enlargement of all his previous knowledge, of all his past endeavor. The work moreover was mapped out in the New World, and on the margins of its mightiest River. It was associated with engineering projects of unprecedented magnitude, including mathematical and scientific combinations of gigantic proportions, which, if successfully completed, would place those who promoted them, and those who performed them, among the famous and distinguished men of the age. How fairly Mr. Hodges had measured his own powers will be apparent by the following extract from the paper already quoted:

“The plans of the bridge, which is nearly two miles in length, and which occupied from 1853 to 1860 in its construction, were supplied by the engineers of the company, Messrs. Stephenson and Ross, all who know anything of such works are well aware; but the mode of carrying them out being left entirely in the hands of Mr. Hodges, the whole of the appliances used in the temporary works necessary for the erection of the bridge were from his own models and designs; and these, when the novelty of the situation, and the extremes of heat and cold incident to the climate of Canada are considered, it may be readily inferred were of no ordinary character. Indeed, if none but a master mind could plan the Victoria Bridge, it required no less a master mind to carry the designs into execution; and, to afford some idea of the task undertaken in this respect, it is only necessary to mention that the whole of the temporary staging, and works generally, had to be removed every autumn prior to the ice taking, and then re-erected in the following summer when the ice had departed; so that in reality the labor at the masonry at the bridge in its earlier construction could only be carried on between the months of May and November; and, as all engaged in the ironwork were inexperienced as to the rigors of the Canadian winter and its effect upon that metal in erections of this nature, the anxieties of him upon whom devolved the management of such an undertaking, and amid such perplexities, will be easily understood. But during the whole time that these vast works were in hand no exigency ever happened (and many did happen) that Mr. Hodges, with his intuitive genius and energetic action, was not ready to meet and to vanquish; and never will the writer forget the incessant labor and watchful anxiety displayed in the winter of 1858-’59 by that gentleman, and not only by him, but, as showing the force of example, by the hundreds of men who were working for him, at a time when the performance of their tasks seemed to be at the risk of their very lives, in order that what he had promised, as regards work to be done within a given period, should be accomplished. And to those who know him, it is not necessary to add that his promise was fully redeemed. The circumstances were these:—The importance of the Victoria Bridge to the Grand Trunk Railway system soon became so apparent as the mileage of the road began to be opened and worked, that the Directors determined upon giving the contractors a bonus of £60,000 if they would deliver the bridge to the company, completed, a year before the date fixed in the contract; and the contractors, with that spirit of enterprise for which Messrs. Peto, Brassy and Betts are so universally known, and their knowlege of the man in whom they had to trust, at once undertook to complete the bridge so as to be ready for traffic in December, 1859, instead of in that month in the following year, as stipulated in the contract. This arrangement was concluded so late in 1858 that all, save the one man who had to do the work, looked upon the thing as next to impossible, and so it appeared to be. But with Mr. Hodges it was not only possible, but certain, and to this end were his best energies directed, and not only his, but those of all who were with him. At this time the centre tube of 330 feet span had not been commenced, and under the new state of things the previous appliances for the temporary work, such as the cofferdams, &c., were no longer of any service, as the tube was to be erected during the winter months, with the ice as the foundation of the works; and thus had new arrangements, to meet the new phase of the case, to be devised and matured with no loss of time. Nor were the difficulties of this unexpected and novel situation lessened by the fact that in former years instances were known of the ice moving early in March, and in just such seasons as that year promised to be, viz., a mild winter; and that, in the event of such a contingency happening on the present occasion, it would utterly preclude the possibility of the completion of the bridge, and be at the same time pregnant with disaster to life and property. So much risk, indeed, surrounded the proposition to place the tube of seven hundred and seventy-one tons, and three hundred and thirty feet in length, at an altitude of nearly fifty feet from the surface of the ice, which was to be the foundation of the temporary staging in situ within a couple of months, and this, too, in the depth of a Canadian winter, that few men would have ventured on the experiment at all; but Mr. James Hodges was just the man for such a task in such an emergency. He revelled in the idea of having a difficulty to surmount, and bravely did he set himself about it. On the 31st January the staging was ready to receive the floor of the tube, when the first rivet was driven, and the 26th day of March saw the tube in place completed, the whole having been done in forty-seven days. Right willingly did all employed to produce this result toil day and night; and everything during the first half of the period, during which time more than half the work to be done was accomplished, went ‘merry as a marriage bell.’ The men’s hearts were in their work, as each one felt it to be a feature in his life’s history to have assisted in the erection of such a structure, and the more particularly when they knew that on their efforts solely depended the promised opening of the bridge. They wrought, indeed, with a will. Deterred by no adverse circumstances, they strove bravely on; and, when it is remembered that they were working in the open air, the thermometer frequently ten, fifteen, and twenty, aye, and thirty degrees below zero of Fahrenheit, it will be admitted that the men were working with no common zeal, and that the influences which kept them there under such circumstances were of no ordinary character. Mr. Hodges, who has just given to the world a history of the construction of the Victoria Bridge, thus pays tribute to the exertions of his workmen in connection with the erection of the centre tube. He says:—‘Indeed, every man employed seemed to imagine that success depended upon his own individual exertion, and all worked with this feeling as if for very life, irrespective altogether of remuneration. I have frequently witnessed in cases of emergency great enthusiasm displayed by a few men, but with such numbers as were here employed I never saw anything so universal or so continued as upon this occasion.’ And their labors triumphed; and though for eight and forty hours just preceding the termination of their task it was supposed the ice was incapable, from its rotten condition, of holding together much longer, such was the faith of the men in their master’s calculations that not one left his labor until the centre tube rested on its stone foundations. In a few hours afterwards the ice moved, and parted in the centre of the river, carrying with it a large portion of the temporary staging, of which time had not permitted the removal; and thus completed within seven weeks, an amount of work which has no parallel in the history of engineering. This tube in place, the remaining work to complete the bridge was of easy accomplishment; and therefore within the time agreed upon, under the arrangement above referred to, the Victoria Bridge was opened for traffic, through the exertions of the man whose name heads this sketch.”

In reading the foregoing narrative we call to mind a remark, prompted by truth and pointed with delicacy, which was publicly made by that illustrious engineer the late Robert Stephenson. “Having such men,” such were his words, “as Peto, Brassy and Betts, as contractors, with James Hodges for their engineer, nothing was left for his mind to dwell on but the poetical department of the profession.” Beneath the weight of that engineer’s responsibilities it must have been assuring to possess the benefit of such supports. He knew and could trust his practical colleagues to reduce to form and solidity the creation of his own thought; and he was honest enough to say so.

There was a thrilling fascination in the circumstances which attended the progress of that critical portion of the structure referred to in the foregoing extract. Divested of its poetical and historical attractions, it was a spirited handicap against time between aggressive nature and repellant art, in which it may be said that science held the stakes. That winter’s struggle with chance and change, against time and climate, against the caprice and violence of the elements, to say nothing of the common and uncommon hindrances which beset all great undertakings, was suggestive of many hazards, and more than one issue. There is, all things considered, much in the picture to awe the judgment, to excite the fancy, and to quicken the pulse. We watch the calm chief and his resolute workmen unflinchingly pursue their patient labor of preparation, for placing the central tube. In imagination we see the tube itself, black and forbidding, like some monster of the deep, reposing on the crystal pavement of the river. We note, hour by hour, the relaxing frost, and the encroaching thaw; the cold diminishing when labor can be performed, and the heat increasing by which it may be destroyed. We watch with strange interest the earlier rising and later setting of the sun. We observe his increasing power, and endeavor to gauge his growing strength as he draws nearer and nearer to, and then, radiant with wrath, passes the vernal equinox. We see him burnishing his arms and inflaming his rays. We feel their exhibiting glow; and, turning aside from their glare, we curiously speculate on the extent of their influence on the unfinished work. We inquire of ourselves, and then question mature age and wise experience; will the seasons wait for man, and if not, will the ice accumulated in the dregs of winter, suffice to retard the approach of spring? Will the imprisoned waters of that passionate River submit much longer, and for how much longer, to be cribbed and cabined in their thrall of cold? None can answer: we only know that for the present, nature is benign, and we can only hope she will wait till all things are ready ere she enters the lists for the mastery with art.

All praise to the wise and patient builder, James Hodges, all praise to his patient and skilled workmen. What man could do was done well. Each finished part exactly suited its corresponding part, each joint its fellow, each pin its socket, each bolt its rivet. The day of triumph was fast approaching. On the 26th March, 1859, the painstaking and sagacious builder, with a grateful mind, we doubt not, and a heart throbbing with pride and overflowing with thankfulness, beheld the crown and climax of his work. He saw before him what the dreamer on the Alpine height failed to realize. He saw the reward of high endeavor, the actual triumph of science, in the visible creation of art; and the treble victory was blended with his own work. He saw moreover “amidst snow and ice,” if not “the banner with the strange device,” at all events a work, which was his work, fair in its proportions, tangible in its parts, beneficial in its purposes, and as durable as time. He saw the end of his anxious labors, his name wreathed with bays, and graved forever on an enduring monument. “Excelsior,” the attraction of the dreamer, had no charm for the worker; like a dissolving view its figurative outlines retreated from the fabled flag, and in its place there arose in forms imperishable other and more alluring letters, the letters of success, fair as truth, bright as hope, and musical with fame; letters which grew to the shape and syllables of that cherished word of love and triumph, the grace of womanhood and the glory of art, precious as a possession and truthful as a prophecy: “Victoria!

The successful progress of the work to this stage was a subject for congratulation from one end of the Province to the other. The Press rang its joybells, and “all parties agreed” to make much of what, without extravagance, was regarded as one of the world’s wonders. A leading journal, in noticing the fact, thus specially refers to the builder, Mr. Hodges:

“These figures convey some idea of the forethought and practical combinations which are necessary to carry out a design profitably to a contractor; and there are two ways of doing this. There is the harsh overbearing inconsiderate selfishness, which extends no thoughts to others, and views “the hands” in the cold material view of wringing from their labor all the profit which could be gained, without a thought of their comfort and happiness; and there is the zenith of this low view of the matter, and it has to be said to Mr. Hodges’ credit, that the latter is the principle by which he has been guided. He has not contented himself with only looking to the interest of the firm which he represents, but he has carried on the work like a gentleman. There have been trying times during the last five years, as any one may readily conceive, and Mr. Hodges may not have spared others, indeed it was not possible to do so, but he never spared himself. Where there was difficulty and danger, there he was to be found, and no man has been asked to go where he would not have had to follow. Disappointments and accidents and temporary failures form chapters in the history of all such undertakings, when they are written, but generally the world never hears of them. They come, and cost anxiety, and pass away, and re-appear again to be triumphed over periodically; to be met with only to create renewed energy.”

On the occasion of the first Passenger Train passing through that formidable tube, the Bishop of Montreal, in the course of an eloquent speech, thus alluded to Mr. Hodges:

“He, the Bishop, was there because he wished to pay the tribute of his personal respect to Mr. Hodges, to testify his high sense of that gentleman’s integrity, and of the Christian principle with which he had provided for the education and spiritual supervision of all the people connected with the work. He looked on this gentleman’s example, as one which all employers should follow. They had no right to congregate large bodies of people without making provision for their spiritual wants. Mr. Hodges, with the approbation of his principles, had acted so as to secure this great blessing for the people employed by him. Though this mighty work would meet with the fate described by the great poet,

‘The cloud capp’d towns, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve,

And, like the baseless fabric of a vision,

Leave not a wrack behind,’

yet the integrity of character, high moral principles, and Christian philanthropy which had actuated Mr. Hodges would remain on record for all eternity.”

At a public dinner given to the late employées of the Victoria Bridge, after the departure of Mr. Hodges, one of the most distinguished Engineers in America spoke as follows:—

“It is my firm conviction, gentlemen, that the contractors, never in any of their great enterprises, displayed more wisdom and sagacity; or greater ability to cope with great difficulties, than in selecting Mr. Hodges for the arduous work of placing the Victoria Bridge where it now stands, as firm as the rock it rests upon. It is not enough to say, gentlemen, that no better man could have been found for the place. I go farther, and assert, that in any community, however large, of intelligent and able men, it would have been a difficult matter, a very difficult matter indeed, to have picked out a man so eminently fitted in all the various qualifications it required, as Mr. Hodges has proved himself to be, for conducting the great work to a successful completion; and, gentlemen, it was not only in his dealings with the St. Lawrence that he proved himself a man of resource and a skilled and patient workman, but, better still, in his dealings between man and man he has proved himself to be that which the poet has termed ‘the noblest work of God, an honest man.’ It is but negative praise, gentlemen, to say that a man has no enemies; of Mr. Hodges it is a simple truth to say that in every man with whom he had dealings during his sojourn amongst us here in Canada, he secured a friend.”

On the same occasion a Canadian Engineer, during the course of his speech, in replying to the Toast “Success to the Victoria Bridge,” thus alluded to Mr. Hodges, of whose staff he was a member:

“Some few years since, the idea of such a structure spanning our noble St. Lawrence, would have been laughed at, and to people acquainted with the force of the current, and the millions of tons of ice to be hurled against this barrier, the scheme seemed perfectly ridiculous; but there were others who thought differently; men of unrivalled genius pointed out the way by which the obstacles could be surmounted, and soon found others willing and ready to furnish the ‘sinews of war,’ to aid them in the untried conflict with the mighty river, and that that confidence was not misplaced, this auspicious and happy meeting to celebrate its success abundantly testifies. You will remember this gigantic work was commenced in the year 1854, to be completed in 1861, in the short space of eight years, a time not to be measured by the usual span in this rigorous climate, but each season to be compressed as it were into a few short fleeting summer months. You will also please bear in mind that two of these years were nearly lost, owing to monetary difficulties during the Crimean War, when works in all other parts of the world were either paralyzed or stopped. I ask you, then, in the face of all this, with the bridge open for traffic in the year 1859, nearly eighteen months before the time specified by the most sanguine, if its construction has not been a success,—an achievement, gentlemen, owing in great measure to the indomitable energy and ability of Mr. James Hodges, ably seconded by yourselves, individually and collectively? You will perhaps allow me to pay more than a passing tribute to this gentleman, notwithstanding that he has been so highly eulogized on this and other similar occasions. We, young Canadian engineers, owe him a debt which nothing can cancel, one which will be transmitted to our children and children’s children, for the ready and helping hand he extended in placing us in positions to be associated with this, our country’s greatest work; and now that the bands which united us to him for the last five years are severed, never again to be reunited, we would like if it were possible this evening, for an expression of our gratitude to be wafted on the wings of the winds across the broad Atlantic, to his honored retreat in Surrey; telling him that the high and honorable precepts he both taught and practised in our midst, will never be forgotten, but be forever cherished in memory enabling us as far as possible in our future career, to follow in his footsteps. Gentlemen, I have seen him in moments of disaster, and in hours of success, at times when he was forced to bow to powerful and ruthless adversaries, and when gazing with the calmness of a Christian philosopher upon the destruction of the works of months; in a few minutes, prepare resolutely again to enter the arena of conflict, and eventually emerge victoriously. You have all lately seen him in the full flush of triumph, with the victor’s garlands encircling his brow, the crash of triumphant music and the ringing cheers of a thousand spectators in his ears;—at a moment like this, when conscious superiority and pride would have been pardonable if ever; and yet, with a modesty unparalleled, have heard him disclaiming all credit, and in eloquent terms pointing to you as the men who did all, thereby shewing the truth of the maxim, that ‘genius and ability are always allied with modesty’.”

Before the subject of our sketch separated himself from the work which had brought him to Canada, there remained for him another honor to receive and some other duties to discharge. The formal opening of that grand highway of British North America was to be inaugurated by the Heir to the Throne in the name of the Queen. We have not space to narrate the proceedings which took place at the memorable festival which was given on the occasion to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales by the Grand Trunk Railway Company. We can only find room for that portion which more immediately relates to the subject of our sketch.

On the arrival of the Prince at the Bridge, which thenceforward was, by Royal command, to bear the Queen’s name, and to be called Victoria Bridge, His Royal Highness was received by James Hodges, Esquire, the builder, who handed him a wooden mallet and silver trowel, the Prince bowing and uncovering as he received them. The trowel bore the following inscription:





On the reverse was an engraving of the Bridge. The handle was wrought into the form of a Beaver, which was attached to the blade by a Prince of Wales plume, the edges of the blade being decorated with a border of the Rose, Shamrock, Thistle, and Maple Leaf.

His Royal Highness took the trowel, and, with a few dexterous strokes, levelled the mortar, previously roughly spread. The stone was then lowered under the directions of Mr. Hodges’ foreman. While the tackle was being adjusted, His Royal Highness looked with evident interest on the broad river-scenery before him, and made smiling observations to the Duke of Newcastle and the Governor General. At length the large mass was lowered to its permanent resting place. It was a stone ten feet long by six broad and two deep, weighing several tons. The Prince concluded this part of the ceremony by giving one or two formal taps with the masonic gavel, and the Bridge was completed, to be henceforth known by the name of “Victoria Bridge.” The band of the Royal Canadian Rifles struck up the National Anthem as the ceremony was concluded.

The last stone having been laid, His Royal Highness, and a large number of the official gentlemen in attendance upon him, took the royal car and proceeded to the central arch, where the last rivet was still to be driven,—an operation which was executed by the Prince with great spirit and good-will. Three rivets were first driven by the men, the Prince having first selected the hole which he would fill. This happened to be a tolerably high one—about the level of his head, and some of the bystanders suggested that a more convenient one should be selected. But the Prince adhered to his own choice. Those who have seen the rivets driven, know that it is done with a very rapidly repeated stroke; and when His Royal Highness observed the dexterity of the workmen, he observed that he was afraid he should prove only a bungling hand. However, the last rivet being pushed through, he took the small hammer, and, after giving two or three taps to steady the bolt, Mr. Hodges having applied the cupping-tool, and given him a large hammer of several pounds weight, he speedily completed this very last touch to the great structure.

In noticing the scientific and material success which crowned the labors of the “wise master builder,” we should not lose sight of the moral peculiarities of the undertaking. It was no new thing for great works to be carried on in Canada. It was no new thing to accumulate artizans, mechanics, and laborers, in one particular place, to be used for the pecuniary advantage of their employers. But it was a new thing to take thought of the moral as well as of the physical well-being of those congregated persons; and to make provision for their intellectual life, as well as for their profitable employment. It was a new thing for a working man to sympathize with and make sacrifices for working men. It was a new thing for one who had practical experience of the form and meaning of those words, the “sweat of the brow,” to soften and alleviate their common bitterness by separating ignorance from toil, and by refreshing the jaded body from the treasury of the instructed mind. Nor for the men alone was counsel taken and provision made. The religious and educational well-being of their families were the subjects of anxious solicitude to Mr. Hodges. On his recommendation, we believe, chaplains and schoolmasters were appointed, and for the time being became stipendiaries of the contractors. Buildings suited to the purposes of worship and education were erected and set apart. The Reverend Mr. Ellegood, of Montreal, one of the chaplains referred to, has often, in our hearing and to our knowledge, spoken and written in terms of unalloyed admiration and thankfulness on the gratifying fact; that gentlemen exercising the influence of contractors should have recognized their responsibilities to the workmen in their employ, by making personal and pecuniary sacrifices for their moral and intellectual welfare. The active quality of Mr. Hodges’ sympathy was of that refined and delicate kind which is commonly associated with pure and gentle minds. “Tell me, Mr. Ellegood, in what way I can aid you to benefit my men.” “I shall be glad to be useful in your service and theirs.” “It is for you to lead the way, and for me to follow it if I can.” In this legitimate and truly Christian manner it was that the clergyman and the layman, the moral builder and the material builder, sympathized with and understood one another. Each according to “his vocation and ministry” sought to aid the other; one by inclining the wills and influencing the lives of “unruly men,” and the other by directing their industry and making plans for their happiness. In morals it is commonly presumptuous to trace arbitrarily the relation which exists between cause and effect, but it may not be out of place to add, what we believe to be as unusual as it is noteworthy, namely that those years of labor though beset with manifold difficulties, were neither blemished with tumults, nor impeded by “strikes,” on the part of the workmen.

There was still another duty which, before his departure to England, Mr. Hodges had charged himself to perform. Victoria Bridge, at the northerly side of the St. Lawrence, springs from Point St. Charles, a point of land which may indeed be said to have been peopled with memorials of sorrow. In the year of the ship fever pestilence; the site, being salubrious and detached, was selected by the authorities for the erection of hospitals and for the burial of the dead. Those hospitals were expressly built for the reception of immigrants who, during that year, arrived in great numbers from Europe. Having served their purposes, the hospitals were removed, but the quiet dead were left to an undisturbed rest in their nameless graves. They belonged to the humbler walks of life, to the class of working men, on whom fortune had bestowed no smiles, and to whom industry had attracted little wealth. Weary at heart, and weakened in health, they seemed to be, and they were, fitting marks for those forms of evil which the spirit of pestilence scattered about the land. Their arrival, their illness, and in too many cases their deaths, succeeded one another with painful rapidity. A hurried funeral and a shallow burial ended all. Thus the heirs of toil rested from their labors. In digging and preparing the works for the Bridge, the laborers, like “old Kaspar” on the field of Blenheim, turned up many a skull “for there were many there about.” “This dome of thought, this palace of the soul,” though eyeless and speechless, found in silence a language more eloquent than words. It was the unsuccessful and unhonored working man appealing to the successful and the honored working man. It was the prayer of the poor supplicant who slept in the unmarked earth, to one whose name was imperishably graved on the monument hard by—and it was successful. There is an affecting interest in the proceedings which words inadequately convey. Such ripe humanity is not always met with. There is commonly on such occasions want of thought if not want of heart; for men who wear the comfortable livery of the flesh are not always considerate toward those whom death has stripped to the bones. Here however the chord of sympathy was struck with a master’s hand, and it awakened a befitting echo in the hearts of all the workmen. Voluntarily they determined to erect from the products of their own labor a fitting monument to the memories of men, who in other days were workers like themselves. The ceremony of placing the memorial stone represented we think, a picture eloquent in pathos. We not only see the completion of the free will monument of successful workmen to the memory of members of their own order, who, for the most part, lived unnoticed and died unknown; but we see also present and taking part in the proceedings, the accredited ministers of His gospel, who, when He humbled himself and veiled his Divinity in flesh, chose for His condition a working man’s parentage, for His calling a working man’s lot, and for His friends those whose lives had been cast in the lap of toil.

Our space will not permit us to do more than to state that the memorial stone, which is of an irregular conical shape, is of enormous dimensions, and rests on an elevated pedestal of massive masonry. It bears the following inscription:—




IN 1847 AND 1848.





A.D. 1859.

Mr. Hodges now returned to his quiet home in Surrey, and addressed himself afresh to the plan of life which was interrupted when he left Bagshot five years before. Alas! we forget that life, like time, knows no renewing. Thus it happened to Mr. Hodges. He had scarcely resumed his old pursuits when death withdrew his wife, leaving him solitary, as well as desolate, for he had no children. Utter seclusion was probably attended with the feelings of indifference to passing events, which is common to those whose aim in life is lost. In some moods life itself is weariness, and breeds satiety. Whether such was the case or not in the instance before us, we have no means of knowing. It is however interesting to learn that if this state of paralysis did exist, the unhealthy spell was broken by the utterances of one whose writings have become household words, wherever the English language is read, or English character is appreciated. The Reverend Charles Kingsley, Professor of English History in the University of Cambridge, gave a lecture to the working men of Bagshot. We can well imagine the lecture to have been all aglow with the strong racy, vigorous English thought of that thorough Englishman. The subject moreover, from the scraps we have seen, was, we venture to think, a congenial one. It insisted, as we learn amongst other things, on action as a condition of happiness as well as of usefulness; that all men should be working men, that they should do, as well as be; for that being, apart from doing, was existence merely, but it was not life. “Now I dare say,” said the lecturer, “you are all proud of being Englishmen, but you have no right to be so, you ought rather to be ashamed that you have not contributed something to the welfare and greatness of England, which each of you might and every one of you ought to have done.” This hearty rating was not without its effect on at least one of his auditors. The bolt was driven home, and it found its rivet in the person of Mr. Hodges. He then and there resolved to act as well as think, to do something not only for the country of his birth, but for one of the Provinces of that country in which he had passed some useful years.

When residing in Canada, Mr. Hodges had become possessed of from twenty to twenty-five thousand acres of land. His acquired interest in the country probably inclined him to sympathize with and share their regret, who, bowing uncomfortably to the decrees of science, were obliged to accept, it may be with wry faces, the disagreeable dictum of geologists who remorselessly assert that there are no coal fields in Canada. There was, in all probability, a kind of muscular sympathy between the strong minded scholar and the strong minded Engineer, for vigorous thought and vigorous action are nearly allied and seem naturally to belong to one another. Besides, the latter was at that time, as we have said, in a state of unhealthy despondency which required strong treatment for its relief. He needed craggy subjects to think of, and gigantic ones to perform. His mind was cramping his life and warping its inclination. It was therefore desirable that the latter should be beaten as on an anvil and welded afresh to occupation, in order that the vigor of the former might be recovered. Like one who saw his course and determined to keep it, Mr. Hodges shook off his torpor, and did exactly what a person moved by true and healthy thought, under such circumstances, would be apt to do. He turned his back on civilization, and his face to the “wild woods.” He recalled purposes which had frequently visited him with respect to the much discussed question of fuel provision in Canada. Has nature, we may suppose him to have asked, furnished no equivalent for what she has withheld? Are not the peat bogs capable of supplying the place of coal fields? The question was capable of solution, and it was certainly worth solving. Mr. Hodges determined to make the attempt, and therefore, to satisfy himself of the existence of a cheap and available fuel in Canada, he returned to this country, where, on his own property in the Eastern Townships, he is now, and has been for the last two years, occupied in testing by experiments the merits of his theory. We regret that our space will not allow us to describe either the monstrous machine now in operation, or the process by which peat is produced, and bog land drained. It is enough to say that we possess the testimony of Mr. Hodges to the fact that with the by no means perfect machine now in use, he can, in the course of one year, excavate a canal twenty miles long by twenty feet wide and six feet deep. One who appears to know Mr. Hodges personally and has seen him in his English as well as his Canadian home, has pleasantly noted his impressions of the inventor and his latest invention.

“It was the good fortune of the writer, a few days since, in company with an eminent engineer, to visit the scene of the experiment, and go over the work done by the projector, receiving his explanations of it. Taking the night train over the Grand Trunk Railway we reached Arthabaska in the early morning, and after waiting some time at that station took the seven o’clock train over the Three Rivers branch, reaching Bulstrode in about forty minutes after. Here, upon a little knoll or sand hill in the midst of a great marsh or peat bog, we found Mr. Hodges’ very snug backwoods cottage, with only two other habitations in sight, and no public road—except the railway leading out to the rest of the world. So utterly is this “in the woods”—notwithstanding the passage through it of a railway and a telegraph line—that the engine upon one of the trains not many days before our visit had run against a cariboo and knocked it off the track. Not only cariboo, but moose, and bears are still not unfrequently seen here, besides any number of hares and other game. We received a cordial greeting from Mr. Hodges and his nephew, Mr. F. Gooding, who passed last winter here in preparations for this summer’s campaign. I could not help noting the contrast between the surroundings of life here and in that pretty suburb of London where the proprietor has, in times past, made so many of his Canadian friends welcome and happy. There the highest culture, and all the surroundings which wealth and refined tastes can afford; here the barren wilderness in its least inviting aspect.”

The recollection of Bagshot with its beautiful setting of cultivated scenery, must indeed very strangely have contrasted with Bulstrode and its accompaniments of primeval wildness. The latter, however, seems to have possessed strange fascination to the proprietor of the former, for the writer already referred to, thus concludes his jottings by the way:

“I said there was no public carriage road away from Mr. Hodges’ house, but he has cut a road of his own through his own domain, for nearly five miles through the wilderness to the Becancour River, within a short distance from the falls on that pretty river, not yet connected, however, with any settlement. We drove over it, on the way starting a good many partridges, some of which were shot by the Engineer, who was happy, overjoyed at return to wood life—only declaring it was a sham to call that the back woods where there was a telegraph line. ‘When off to the woods in earnest,’ he said ‘I always throw a stone at the last telegraph pole, to mark my gratification at parting with civilization.’ En route we were shown by our host a very remarkable birch tree sending up seven slender stems from one bole; hence he has named it ‘The Seven Sisters.’ Notman has photographed it, as well as the cottage and the wonderful digging machine.”

James Hodges of Queenborough, in the county of Kent, and James Hodges, Esquire, of Bulstrode, in the wilds of Canada, represent two very different passages in the history of the same person. The energetic boy of the former place,

“The little curly headed good for nothing,

 And mischief-making monkey,”

as we have no doubt he was, is outwardly at least easily recognized in the calm, grave, “grey-eyed man” of the latter place. “Hyperion’s curls” remain; whitened, softened, and made chinchilla like, by the sleet and drift of many winters and much thought; “The front of Jove” is there, shaded by the grace of subduing charity, and the “eye of Mars,” too, is there, radiant with bloodless triumphs, the abiding victories of peace. All else is changed. In his outward parts it may not be difficult to connect the boy with the man; but in the inward part, in the intellectual life, in that which we call character, we lose all trace of the former and only see a strong, self-reliant, persevering specimen of our race, struggling successfully with adversity, and striving against the tide.

“The shout! the song! the burst of joy,” which made musical the days of his boyhood, have given place to deeper and more earnest notes. The overture of life has been succeeded by the drama of life. The curtain has fallen on the latter, and a sea of applause informs us that success is crowned. The after-piece still remains to be enacted, and we feel and know that it will add grace and beauty to, and be no unfit commentary on, what has gone before.

“The good that men do, lives after them.” Little children, or children of larger growth, who are now receiving instruction in the night school of Bagshot may one day rise up and “call him blessed” who established that school; and the struggling working man, who, at the Mechanics’ Institute of Bagshot, may catch his earliest glimpse of “star-eyed science;” will, in accents attuned to reverence, express his thankfulness to the successful working man who established that Institute; and the acknowledgments of both will meet in the person of the magnanimous subject of our sketch. In this Province his name is chiselled almost beyond the reach of the wear and tear of time on our greatest monument; the scientific wonder of this, and the admiration of the other continents. Should his present experiment prove successful, his praises will be articulated in exhilarating accents by tongues of flame. He will be remembered with admiration at the fire sides of the rich, and with gratitude on the hearth stones of the poor. Thus, whether here or elsewhere, his life communion will be flavored with the recollection of works of righteousness. No lees of memory will embitter the wine of enjoyment. “His pleasing hope,” his fond desire, his “longing after immortality,” will not be shadowed and made hideous by the forms of beckoning ghosts, which, like malaria, arise to curse, afflict, and make them tremble who live aimless, hard, and selfish lives.


In speaking of himself the Honorable Joseph Howe is reported to have said: “During the old times of persecution, four brothers, bearing my name, left the southern counties of England, and settled in four of the New England States. Their descendants number thousands, and are scattered from Maine to California. My father was the only descendant of that stock who at the revolution adhered to the side of England. His bones rest in the Halifax church-yard. I am his only surviving son.”

We are not informed nor can we conjecture what number of generations separated the father of our sketch from one of the four brothers who in the unhappy days of persecution left England because English rule was oppressive, and English thought intolerant. Those four brothers were the progenitors of a prolific race, and were therefore especially suited to the needs of a new country. They were among the earlier emigrants who, for conscience sake, forsook the old world for the new, turning from the church of a fair land, to set up a tabernacle in the wilderness. It might be instructive, could we do so, to follow the course of their histories, and, if possible, read them by the light of individual experience. To trace, for example, the influence of old principle which like threads of precious gold ran through one of those families, connecting the descendants with the ancient English root and the sympathetic British soil. Perhaps it might be discovered that this one “faithful among the faithless found,” whose bones rest in the Halifax church-yard, who, as the sole representative in his family of the royal line, and the father of the subject of our sketch, like the chevalier Bayard, was in his sacrifice and poverty happier far than those, even though their name was legion and their possessions great, who “forgot their king, their country and their oaths.” The reverent wish with which Mr. Howe’s communication ends has about it the brightness of old wine, the ring of pure gold, the grace of a forgotten fashion, the relish of a rare experience, the sanctity of a holy purpose; for thus the son speaks of his father, and promises for himself. “Whatever the future may have in store, I want when I stand beside his grave to feel that I have done my best to preserve the connection he valued, and that the British flag may wave above the soil in which he sleeps.”

With such antecedents we should look for and expect to find in the subject of our sketch many strong and some apparently contradictory traits of character. The habit of resolute thought and fearless private judgment derived from his remote ancestors, and the habit of intelligent loyalty inherited from his immediate one, would equally manifest themselves in his opinions and character. The former, in obedience to the law of liberty, would probably shew itself extravagantly in a morbid fear of, and resolute resistance to ecclesiastical authority, accompanied by a fixed preference for some one of the nonconforming bodies which cherishes the most ardent attachment to free and unfettered thought. We were therefore prepared for the information contained in a speech of his on collegiate education, wherein Mr. Howe with trumpet tongue declares himself to be an “Independent,” a member of one of the fighting families of the saints. “We are the Independents,” he observes; “and before this agitation ceases, it will be found that we are a pretty large sect in Nova Scotia, not ashamed of our name, and able to fight for our own opinions.”

It was in obedience to those principles that Mr. Howe, immediately on being returned to Parliament, upon the motion to appoint a chaplain, submitted the following resolution:

“Resolved, that, representing the whole Province, peopled by various denominations of Christians, this House recognized no religious distinctions, and is bound to extend not only equal justice, but equal courtesy, to all.”

The principle enunciated in that resolution has been generally recognized in British North America. At some future day, when its practical effects are patiently examined, it may be found that the application of the popular level to Protestant bodies was disastrous only to the cause it was designed to serve. In depressing the forces of the reformation to the standard of the smallest member of the reformed family, little was effected for the cause of religious liberty, for that liberty was not menaced; and nothing for the interests of Scriptural truth, for those truths were not challenged. Whether the enforced depression of the protestant churches has not been attended with a corresponding elation of the Church of Rome, is an inquiry which will probably be made some day and in a place more suitable than the pages of this work.

If however his attachment to the Church of England was conspicuous for its weakness, there was no weakness in his love towards the Throne of England. There are some who, denying the ecclesiastical dogma of church authority, accept the theory of Divine right in the person of their temporal rulers. Others who withhold allegiance from their King, admit without controversy their fidelity to their Church. Now although Mr. Howe would willingly take the oath of allegiance, and fulfil without flinching the obligations it entails, we do not believe that any power would induce him to subscribe the Thirty-nine Articles, or confess, without wincing the Athanasian Creed. Presuming on the accuracy of these distinctions, it will not be difficult to place Mr. Howe. We should not expect to meet him at the sign of “the mitre”; he would prefer the hospitality of “the crown.” We should not look for him in a Cathedral Close or with the Bishop and Chapter, but rather amidst the estates of the realm, and near the person of the Sovereign; not in the Abbey, but in the Palace of Westminster. “I am,” said Mr. Howe proudly, “a Nova Scotian, the son of a loyalist, a North American, a true subject of the Queen, but one whose allegiance to be perfect must include every attribute of manhood, every privilege of the Empire.” The crown “on a bramble” would inspire in him little respect; it would certainly fail to attract every attribute of manhood. It might stimulate his fancy, but it would not move his heart. His loyalty is addressed to a person and not to an emblem; and therefore he felicitates himself as a true subject of the reigning monarch, rather than as a true subject of the hereditary monarchy of England.

Turning to his personal narrative we learn that Mr. Howe’s father, of whom he always speaks in terms of passionate devotion, and who died in 1835 at the age of eighty-three, was for many years King’s Printer, and Postmaster General of the Lower Provinces. That gentleman is represented to have been a fine looking man, of great courtesy, and intelligence. He wrote with elegance, and, avoiding all questions of political dispute, he spoke with eloquence rarely equalled on the various religious subjects of the day. The subject of our sketch was born in 1804, in a cottage pleasantly situated on the North-West Arm. There he spent the first thirteen years of his life, and acquired in open air occupations the robust constitution which has thus far befriended him and defied fatigue. In that cottage, and amidst the charming scenery of his native Province, on the margin of her rivers, on the bosom of her lakes, or with the “jocound day” “on the misty mountains’ tops” he imbibed his love of nature. There he courted the spirit of “divine poesy,” which prompted him in his earlier writings to attune his syllables to song, and express his thoughts in verse. No regular education interrupted his enjoyments. From the treasury of his father’s knowledge and experience he learned enough to make the long evenings seem short, and he remembered enough almost to compensate him for what he failed to learn. To excellent parts were superadded the discipline of severe manual exercise, of desultory reading, and pure companionship, above all the society of that parent whom the son always loved and never ceased to reverence. Those memories belonged to the sunny period of early youth, to that heavenly time in human life whose perfumed beauty never dies.

“Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,

 Tears from the depth of some divine despair

 Rise in the heart, and gather in the eyes,

 In looking on the happy autumn fields,

 And thinking of the days that are no more.”

At thirteen the clouds began to gather, for life in earnest opened to his view. He was placed in the “Gazette” office, as an apprentice to the printing business. When thus employed, he published a small poem entitled “Melville Island.” This was followed by fugitive contributions of a similar kind to the newspapers. Of their merits we are unable to speak, but the practice of composition which was commenced then was, there can be little doubt, a discipline of wisdom.

In 1827, at the age of twenty-three, Mr. Howe, in connection with another, purchased a newspaper which he named “The Acadian.” Thus he made his bow as a public writer. In those days there were few questions of local politics to disquiet men’s minds. The home news must have been somewhat scanty, and the foreign intelligence travelled with trying deliberation. The editor in his search for literary entertainment fell back on his early experiences of rural life, and, mixing poetry with sketches of natural scenery, he exercised himself in the practice of writing, and gave the public the advantage of his literary compound. At the close of the year, Mr. Howe sold his share in “The Acadian,” and purchased the more ambitious “Nova Scotian” newspaper from the then proprietor, Mr. G. R. Young. The step was deemed by many to be full of hazard, for the paper had acquired literary repute as well as large influence, and both, it was thought, would suffer by the transfer from the hands of a skilled and experienced staff, to those of one who was regarded as an unskilled and inexperienced young man. The result, as is commonly the case, disappointed the gainsayers. The oracles confessed themselves to be at fault, while the public voice, which exclaimed “who would have thought it?” exactly articulated the universal astonishment. Though the volume of 1828 contained little reference to politics, there was no deficiency of spicy and stimulating ingredients in the shape of numerous witty contributions, and it must be added, contributions not free from uncomfortable personalities. In 1829, the subject of our sketch made considerable advance in his public career. Having dabbled on the shore, and waded in the shallows, he now struck out into the deep sea of political discussion. The question was one of privilege, and the editor of the “Nova Scotian,” while admitting that Mr. Barry, a member of the Assembly, had done much to provoke the hostility of that body, nevertheless considered that the House had exceeded its powers in depriving that gentleman of his privileges, and his constituents of their member. Of course, the deprived member was promoted to the ranks of a persecuted individual, and also, as a matter of course, received the solace of popular sympathy. Thus, when Mr. Barry was liberated from gaol, he was not only conveyed in triumph to his own house, but the newspaper which had befriended him received, we have little doubt, a perceptible augmentation to its list of subscribers and a still greater increase to its influence. In 1830, the editor of the “Nova Scotian” began a series of Legislative Reviews, which, being continued from year to year, kept the writer’s mind familiarized with the measures before the country. Before the end of the session of that year a spirited discussion, which ended in a dispute, arose out of the “brandy question;” the two Houses in Parliamentary phraseology came into collision, and the revenue bills were lost. A general election followed. Into this exciting contest Mr. Howe threw all the strength of his literary and political knowledge. He criticized the proceedings, and summed up the evidence by giving the popular party the advantage of his judgment and what was of the more importance, the support of his paper.

Up to 1835, Mr. Howe had been a writer merely. To that time he had never made a speech. Now however the period was about to arrive when, in the capital of his own Province, his name was to become a power; when thought, from its hidden wells, was to overflow in words, and moreover with such fatal effect, as to overwhelm in one day a municipal system which had existed for nearly a century. We have not space for minute explanation. It must suffice to say that in those “good old times” the city of Halifax, being unincorporated, was ruled by magistrates very likely as good, and it may be almost as old as the city itself. Such magistrates were the nominees of the Crown; and their offices, and we suppose the civic duties which attached to them, determined only with their lives. They ruled in the good old way, with strong wills, quick tempers, and good intentions. It was sacrilege to question their wisdom, and it was treason to deny their power. No one had the temerity to do either one or the other. They governed Halifax as Venice may have been governed, substituting a Chairman and a given number of Magistrates, for a Doge and a council of ten. It was at this terrible and immaculate tribunal, Joseph Howe, a presumptuous young man, fired through the columns of his newspaper, a series of shots, shaped according to regulations of his own, and after a pattern that was particularly objectionable. Those missiles moreover were of such a rasping and venomous description, and so exactly aimed, as to cause those comfortable justices to spring from their cushioned chairs, and indict the writer criminally for libel.

The following extract is made from a work which ought to be known better than it is, “Speeches and Public Letters of the Honorable Joseph Howe.” The fact it relates is creditable alike to Mr. Howe’s courage and ability. The Editor says:

“I did not hear Mr. Howe’s defence, but I have heard him laughingly describe the circumstances which compelled him to its preparation and delivery. ‘I went,’ said he, ‘to two or three lawyers in succession, showed them the Attorney General’s notice of trial, and asked them if the case could be successfully defended? The answer was, no, there was no doubt that the letter was a libel. That I must make my peace, or submit to fine and imprisonment. I asked them to lend me their books, gathered an armful, threw myself on a sofa, and read libel law for a week. By that time I had convinced myself that they were wrong, and that there was a good defence, if the case were properly presented to the court and jury. Another week was spent in selecting and arranging the facts and public documents, on which I relied. I did not get through before a late hour of the evening before the trial, having only had time to write out and commit to memory the two opening paragraphs of the speech. All the rest was to be improvised as I went along. I was very tired, but took a walk with Mrs. Howe, telling her as we strolled to Fort Massy, that if I could only get out of my head what I had got into it, the Magistrates could not get a verdict. I was hopeful of the case, but fearful of breaking down, from the novelty of the situation and from want of practice. I slept soundly and went at it in the morning, still harassed with doubts and fears, which passed off, however, as I became conscious that I was commanding the attention of the court and jury. I was much cheered when I saw the tears rolling down one old gentleman’s cheek. I thought he would not convict me, if he could help it. I scarcely expected a unanimous verdict, as two or three of the jurors were connections, more or less remote, of some of the justices, but thought they would not agree. The lawyers were all very civil, but laughed at me a good deal, quoting the old maxim, that “he who pleads his own case has a fool for a client.” But the laugh was against them when all was over.’ ”

Immediately after Mr. Howe’s acquittal, all the magistrates of Halifax resigned, and the old system which those venerable officials represented, after flickering for a while, was snuffed out by an act of incorporation. A handsome piece of plate, with a suitable inscription, was presented to Mr. Howe for his services to the city on the occasion.

Towards the close of the year, he lost his father by death. The bereavement is thus touchingly referred to.

“For thirty years he was my instructor, my playfellow, almost my daily companion. To him I owe my fondness for reading, my familiarity with the Bible, my knowledge of old Colonial and American incidents and characteristics. He left me nothing but his example and the memory of his many virtues, for all that he ever earned was given to the poor. He was too good for this world; but the remembrance of his high principle, his cheerfulness, his child-like simplicity, and truly Christian character is never absent from my mind.”

At the general election in 1836, Mr. Howe first presented himself as a candidate for Parliamentary distinction, when he was returned for the county of Halifax. He took his seat on the red benches with the advanced liberal party of the Province. To the questions—What are liberal opinions? What is constitutional government?—he boldly answered “a system of responsibility to the people extending through all the departments.” This answer supplies the key to his opinions and his policy.

“In England, gentlemen,” he added, “the people can breathe the breath of life into their government whenever they please: in this country the government is like an ancient Egyptian mummy wrapped up in narrow and antique prejudices, dead and inanimate. We are desirous of a change, not such as shall divide us from our brethren across the water, but which shall insure to us what they enjoy.”

In the spring of 1838, Mr. Howe left Nova Scotia, accompanied by the late Mr. Justice Haliburton, for England. It was his first visit. They were passengers on board the “Tyrian,” a ten gun brig, which had been appointed to carry the mails. On her passage, she was overtaken by the “Sirius” steamship, which had been on a trial trip to America, and was then returning, and within a few hundred miles of the English coast. As she came to, alongside of the “Tyrian,” the commander of the latter determined to send his mails on board the former; he did so and the “Sirius” steamed off towards the white English cliffs. There was not a breath to stir the stillness or ruffle the calm of that calm day. The “Tyrian” with flapping listless sails lay becalmed like “a painted ship on a painted ocean.” The “Sirius,” becoming “small by degrees and beautifully less,” was rapidly lost to sight. The question of ocean steam navigation was then and there discussed, and with such earnestness that on the arrival of the travellers in England, they addressed to Lord Glenelg a joint letter on the subject of subsidizing a line of ocean steamships, to ply between the old world and the new. Their representations to the Home Government were speedily followed by the promulgation of tenders, when the late Sir Samuel Cunard seized the opportunity of winning fame and fortune by successfully competing for the performance of the service.

On his return to Nova Scotia, Mr. Howe addressed himself with renewed energy to the accomplishment of his early purpose of securing responsible government in Nova Scotia. We cannot dwell on the manner of his proceeding or on the arguments he made use of, nor is it necessary, since the result at which he aimed has become a part of the constitutional system, not only of that Province, but of the greater portion of the English colonies. His mode of proceeding appears to have been fiercely energetic, and not wholly free from the intolerance of those pilgrim fathers whose blood flows in his veins. Any attachment to ancient rule, any prejudice in favor of the statu quo, any type of fossil conservatism was insufferable, and only fit to be trampled in the dust. Sir Colin Campbell, the Lieut. Governor, though personally unobjectionable, was considered to be politically dull, and would not or could not learn the lesson, which Mr. Howe, and those who thought with him, were anxious to impart. Therefore Sir Colin was deemed to be unequal to the occasion, and therefore his recall was importunately demanded. Lord John Russell, however, declined to present the address to Her Majesty, which the Assembly had passed. Sir Colin was consequently nominally sustained; but his retirement followed shortly afterwards, and Viscount Falkland arrived as his successor. A scene occurred at this time, which is thus related:

“Passing out from Lord Falkland’s levee, Mr. Howe bowed to Sir Colin Campbell, and was moving on; Sir Colin called to him, and, extending his hand, exclaimed, “We must not part in that way, Mr. Howe. We fought out our differences of opinion honestly; you have acted like a man of honour; there is my hand.” It was shaken in all sincerity, and on the old soldier’s departure, a graceful tribute was paid by his opponent to his chivalric characteristics.”

Mr. Howe, the colonial reformer, the passionate advocate of popular rights, the conspicuous leader of an ardent opposition, now entered upon a new phase in his public history. He became a responsible minister to the new Lieutenant Governor; and we can readily understand that the latter had much difficulty in keeping pace with the views of his imperious counsellor. On this point the editor, whom we have already quoted, somewhat amusingly states that—

“His (Mr. Howe’s) difficulties were great. He had to instruct, satisfy, and control within constitutional limits, a nobleman of his own age bred in the school where pride and heady impulses are spontaneously developed, married to a King’s daughter, and remarkably good looking. He had to assert and maintain, in the Cabinet, the general principles which he had advocated outside, and he had to satisfy the country that he was doing so, and that its interests would not be jeopardized by his acceptance of the seat.”

A dissolution of Parliament followed, and Mr. Howe felt himself called upon to address the country through his constituents. There is a very curious passage in this address. The allegory will amuse many who may not be convinced by the argument. The style of thought and metaphor not unfrequently appear in Mr. Howe’s speeches.

“Upon another topic allow me to say a few words. It has been objected by some that a spirit of hostility has been manifested to the Church. I will frankly explain to you my views and feelings on this subject. The beautiful streams that intersect our country in all directions, roll past the dwellings of Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Methodists, and shed an equal charm upon their children playing on the banks. In passing by their orchards, I cannot observe any richer tint upon the blossoms, or finer flavour in the fruit of the one than of the other; nor is there any distinction in the verdure with which nature clothes their fields. The mackerel run as freely into a Catholic’s or Baptist’s net as into any other, and I naturally enough ask myself why, as a legislator, I should make distinctions which God in his own good providence has not made.”

On the meeting of Parliament the Honorable Joseph Howe was elected Speaker by a majority of two votes over Mr. Uniacke. At that time there was no rule to prevent a member of the Executive Council being at the same time Speaker of the Assembly. Mr. Howe was both. At the close of that session, he visited Canada. We wish we had space to reproduce his impressions; his descriptions are very graphic and very suggestive. On his return to Nova Scotia, he was offered and he accepted the post of collector of Colonial Revenue. He consequently resigned the office of Speaker, still however retaining his place as a member of the Assembly. In the following session, he supported resolutions to discontinue the endowment of denominational Colleges. The discussion of this question gave rise to much agitation in the country, and much ill feeling in the Executive Council itself. So much that Viscount Falkland was advised to dissolve Parliament, and he assumed the constitutional responsibility of doing so. After the elections, Messrs Howe, Uniacke and McNab tendered their resignations, and retired from the Council. What followed, we have not space to narrate. In its earlier passages it reads like a comedy of errors, in which the stage manager was moved by some such ideas as Rasselas may have cherished in the Happy Valley. Those ideas were colored by benevolence rather than responsibility, for the Viscount evidently thought that a paternal Government was better suited to Nova Scotia than party Government. Not so thought the subject of our sketch, who had through life been struggling for principle and not for charity. Still his part in the transaction was, we think, by no means free from blame. The exercise of a constitutional right might have been met, and frustrated, by the exercise of a constitutional remedy. Apart from this fact which ought not to have been lost sight of, Mr. Howe appeared to forget that intellects less impulsive than his own could scarcely accommodate themselves to his pace in the race of constitutional and responsible Government. With great ability for work, he had little patience to wait. The unfortunate differences between the Governor and himself resulted in Mr. Howe’s return to literary and newspaper life. The announcement of such intention was more racy and characteristic than temperate or discreet. The transaction included an adroit somersault, not of opinion but of position, in which the writer desired to sink the titles, attractions and responsibilities of an Executive Councillor whom Her Majesty had delighted to honor, and to advance in the manner of a republican the attractions of a Halifax citizen. “Welcome me as an old friend;” thus he wrote “welcome me as a guest, and say as you read this, ‘Why here is Howe” (he did not say citizen Howe) “amongst us again; not Mr. Speaker Howe, not the Honorable Mr. Howe, but “Joe” (that was the word) “Joe Howe as he used to be, sitting in his editorial chair,’ ” and no doubt “Joe Howe” received what he expected, a homely but hearty reception; it could not have been otherwise. On his part he welcomed his old chair, and his old habits and his old gossips, and his old independence and his old warfare and the charming irresponsibility which such independence conferred. We can imagine him to have rubbed his hands with recovered zest, to have nibbed his pen with renewed earnestness, and to have cut his quired foolscap with nervous vigor, as he again meditated congenial work. We can imagine also that he balanced approvingly his old whip, that he recognized the elastic music of its well remembered crack, that he gleefully experimented, and found that his hand had lost none of its cunning and his eye none of its skill, that he was still master of the road, and could as dexterously as ever distantly touch up, or closely flagellate, a dronish, a baulky, or an ill-broken member of the state team. The Lieutenant Governor did not escape his lash. Certainly there was some provocation, and His Excellency offered himself temptingly to the thong of the smiter. Still we care not to dwell on the newspaper, and other passages of this period, for it is not possible to read them apart from the recollection that the writer had been an Executive Counsellor, and a sworn adviser of the nobleman whom he scourged. That nobleman moreover was the representative of his Queen. The irreconcilable differences between Viscount Falkland and Mr. Howe were however brought to an end by the promotion of the former to the Government of Bombay. His Excellency left Nova Scotia on the 1st August, 1846, and was succeeded by Sir John Harvey. In the following year Parliament was dissolved, and the election which took place in the month of August resulted in the triumph of the reform party. At the next session Mr. William Young was, on the motion of Mr. Howe, elected Speaker. Afterwards on the resolution being proposed for an address in answer to the speech from the Throne, Mr. James B. Uniacke moved an amendment expressing want of confidence in the administration, which was carried in the affirmative. The motion was note worthy as being the first of the kind made in the Parliament of Nova Scotia. It resulted, as it was intended it should do, in the resignation of Ministers, and the formation of a new Government under the Honorable Mr. Uniacke, of which the subject of our sketch was a member.

Having successfully struggled to attain important constitutional rights, Mr. Howe now turned his attention to subjects of practical utility, and among them to the necessity of an inter-colonial Railway to connect the Maritime Provinces with Canada. It would be interesting, could we afford the space, to give some extracts from the numerous speeches made by him in these Provinces and elsewhere on this interesting question. The duties and responsibilities of Government, as is commonly the case, had tempered his zeal; wisdom was now as conspicuous as intellect. Closer contact with mankind, and a deeper insight into the springs of human action, had taught him forbearance as well as generosity.

We find, for example, in a speech of great force made by him at a public meeting at Halifax, the following confession, bearing the appearance of apology for the heat and extravagance of his more passionate appeals: “The smoke of past contests has perhaps at times clogged my own mind; like an old chimney, the soot of controversy may have adhered to it after the cooking of constitutions was over; but the fire of this noble enterprise has burnt it out.”

Mr. Howe’s political speeches are illustrated by striking metaphor, and always glow, frequently with anger but generally with eloquence. They are probably more suggestive of debate than discussion; of contention than enquiry: and seem, if we may make such a distinction, more related to the schools than to the senate. They breathe defiance rather than argument; they provoke rather than persuade; they aim at victory rather than success. They possess the quality of fervent heat, and create many blisters, while they mollify none. And yet, it must be confessed the master of such powers restrains his hand and puts a bridle on his tongue. What he says, we “fairly may compute;” what he resists saying, we can only imagine. Take, for example, one passage of an impromptu speech. No public man in Canada, except perhaps the Honorable Mr. McGee, could have pronounced its equal. The Honorable James Boyle Uniacke, the gentleman referred to, was not only a statesman of celebrity in Nova Scotia,” but he was also a personal friend of Mr. Howe, and an exceedingly handsome man. The extract from Mr. Howe’s excoriating speech will explain the rest.

“Had the Provincial Secretary honored me only with his notice, I should not perhaps, have addressed the House again. But he has defamed other gentlemen, who are not here to defend themselves. Among them one, who, for many reasons, might have been spared. Sir, a more able, honorable, and distinguished man never graced the floor of this Assembly, than my late lamented friend, the Honorable James Boyle Uniacke. His noble form, easy deportment, graceful manners, and ready flow of language, are familiar to many who listen to me to-day. No man who ever grappled with him, as I did in the early part of my life, would underestimate his powers. A mind ever fruitful, a tongue ever eloquent, humor inexhaustible, and pathos which none could resist, were among the gifts or attainments of my honorable friend. His colloquial powers were even more marvellous than his forensic or parliamentary display. He charmed the senate by his eloquence; but how delightful was he when surrounded by a knot of friends beneath the gallery, or seated at the head of his own hospitable board. How often have I thought, when meeting abroad the choice spirits of both continents, how rare it was to find a man in all respects a match for James Boyle Uniacke. But he was not only distinguished as a legislator. His means and his intellect were embarked in every enterprise which promised the advancement of the common interest, or the growth of public spirit. Such was the man, sir, to whom, and to the management of whose department, foul language has been applied here by members of the government; even at the very moment when my honorable and learned friend was in the agonies of death. The sepoy and the savage, it is true, torture their victims in that hour, but a Christian warrior turns from them with disgust or slays them for their barbarity. The hawk and the kite may peck out the eyes of the noble steed who has run his course, even while the heart is still palpitating and the blood is warm. What shall I say of such foul birds as the Provincial Secretary and the honorable member for Victoria, who have settled upon the reputation of my departed friend, even while his great heart was breaking and his noble spirit was winging its upward flight? What need be said? We all knew him, and we know them. A serpent may crawl over the statue of Apollo, but the beautiful proportions of the marble will yet be seen beneath the slime. That my friend may have had his errors, I am not here to deny; but I rejoice that, whatever they were, God in His infinite mercy, and not man in his malignity, is hereafter to be his judge.”

The great and versatile talents displayed by Mr. Howe, had won respect and commendation from Ministers of State in England, and it is probable that in selecting him for an important state appointment growing out of the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854, the Imperial Government had been moved only by their opinion thus acquired of his fitness for the delicate duties he would be required to perform. Of the way in which Mr. Howe has discharged these duties, it does not become us to speak. It is however gratifying to observe that his withdrawal from political life has neither clouded his intellect nor blunted his eloquence. His address at the Great International Commercial Convention at Detroit, made on the 14th July, 1865, is too well known both in this Province and the United States to require notice in this place. We recognize the old notes, and feel the glow of the old fame. The Speaker has admiration for America, but love for England. He has compliments for the republic, but devotion for the monarchy; a good deal to say about the three great branches of the British family, but a good deal to feel about the particular branch, through whose generations of faith and loyalty his own especial house has descended. “The line” with which he “is blended” is the line of his affection and his pride. Change of time and change of scene have wrought no change in him. We seem to hear the old clarion tongue attuned to the old words—

“Strike, for your altars and your fires;

 Strike, for the green graves of your sires;

 God, and your native land!”

Hush! let us listen to Mr. Howe himself; for he too has “touched the harp with a thousand strings,” and has moved the living while breathing a dirge for the dead.



Room for the dead! Your living hands may pile

  Treasures of art the stately tents within;

Beauty may grace them with her richest smile,

  And genius here spontaneous plaudits win.

But yet, amidst the tumult and the din

  Of gath’ring thousands, let me audience crave:

Place claim I for the dead. ’T were mortal sin,

  When banners o’er our country’s treasures wave,

  Unmark’d to leave the wealth safe garner’d in the grave.


The fields may furnish forth their lowing kine,

  The forest spoils in rich abundance lie,

The mellow fruitage of the cluster’d vine

  Mingle with flowers of ev’ry varied dye;

Swart artisans their rival skill may try,

  And while the rhetorician wins the ear,

The pencil’s graceful shadows charm the eye;

  But yet, do not withhold the grateful tear

  For those, and for their works, who are not here.

Not here? Oh! yes, our hearts their presence feel,

  Viewless, not voiceless; from the deepest shells

On memory’s shore, harmonious echoes steal;

  And names, which, in the days gone by, were spells,

Are blent with that soft music. If there dwells

  The spirit here our country’s fame to spread,

While ev’ry breast with joy and triumph swells,

  And earth reverb’rates to our measured tread;

  Banner and wreath should own our reverence for the dead.


Look up, their walls enclose us. Look around,

  Who won the verdant meadows from the sea?

Whose sturdy hands the noble highways wound

  Through forests dense, o’er mountain, moor, and lea?

Who spanned the streams? Tell me whose works they be,—

  The busy marts where commerce ebbs and flows?

Who quell’d the savage? And who spared the tree

  That pleasant shelter o’er the pathway throws?

  Who made the land they loved to blossom as the rose?


Who, in frail barques, the ocean surge defied,

  And trained the race that live upon the wave?

What shore so distant where they have not died?

  In every sea they found a watery grave.

Honor, forever, to the true and brave

  Who seaward led their sons with spirits high,

Bearing the red-cross flag their fathers gave;

  Long as the billows flout the arching sky

  They’ll seaward bear it still; to venture or to die.


  Roman gather’d in a stately urn,

  The dust he honor’d—while the sacred fire,

Nourish’d by vestal hands, was made to burn

  From age to age. If fitly you’d aspire,

Honor the dead; and let the sounding lyre

  Recount their virtues in your festal hours;

Gather their ashes—higher still, and higher

  Nourish the patriot flame that history dow’rs;

  And o’er the Old Men’s graves, go strew your choicest flowers.


“This is not the first time we have differed in opinion, I wish most sincerely that it may be the last.” Such are the words with which the subject of our sketch, addressing the late Sir Louis Lafontaine, closes the somewhat celebrated “Draper-Caron” correspondence. Though colored by feeling and evidently made at a moment of excitement, the observation, which contained more sting than honey, revealed a truth susceptible of a wider application than the particular occasion seemed to afford. Indeed, the correspondence is instructive as well as amusing. It enables us more accurately to observe the position which Mr. Caron, with great consistency of purpose, endeavored to take for his party, both before and after the union of the Provinces.

The somewhat overlooked truth should be borne in mind that party Government is not necessarily Government by one of two parties. Where such Government exists, we should, generally speaking, and as a matter of course, expect to find public affairs for the most part administered by the representatives of one or other of the two great parties which commonly divide a state. Such division lines will usually be found to be boldly drawn, deeply colored, and broadly marked, so much so that they are commonly and not inaptly called lines of separation. There is, moreover, little hope of approximation on the part of the forces which commonly entrench themselves within such lines. Their uniforms are distinguishable, their principles are opposed, and their attitude is the attitude of opposition. But between those hostile lines there may be, and there usually is, a certain portion of debatable land, which, belonging to neither of the parties already referred to, is generally occupied by a third party, less influential it may be, but not less attractive, or less worthy of consideration than the other two. This party—for we do not speak of a faction—will in all probability consist of men of independent circumstances as well as of independent opinions, conspicuous for moderation of thought, and for tolerance of sentiment, who know how to be true to their friends, and at the same time fair to their opponents, who can be loyal to their own traditions and can respect the traditions of other people. They may as a party be inconsiderable in number, only a “philosophic few,” but they will be noteworthy for the untrammelled quality of their thought, for generosity of opinion, and for temper in debate. They will represent those pure and passionless attributes of wisdom and justice, which are symbolized by that unfortunate but happily fabulous female, who, with sightless serenity and an unwearied hand, is compelled evermore to hold the scales of impartial justice. Men of extreme views do not appreciate other men who are neither with nor against them, but their aversion, however much it may injure, destroys neither the political existence nor the political value of such men. Acting together as a party of observation and control, they may be called the salt of the state by means of which a country is not unfrequently saved from destruction. We think we shall do no wrong to history and truth by placing the subject of our sketch in the category of such men.

The Honorable Réné Edward Caron is the son of the late Mr. Augustin Caron, a farmer of consideration and substance, who for two Parliaments represented the old County of Northumberland in the former Province of Lower Canada. Like his father, the subject of our sketch was born in the parish of Ste. Anne, Côte de Beaupré. He received his earlier education at the College of St. Pierre, Rivière du Sud, where he met with several student friends who have since distinguished themselves in the Province. Afterwards he entered the Seminary of Quebec where he cultivated the higher branches of classical study. His college life being ended, Mr. Caron was, in the year 1821, articled as a student at law to Mr. André Hamel of Quebec. In the year 1826, he was admitted to the Bar of Lower Canada. The period of his admission was to Mr. Caron exceedingly opportune, for from one cause and another, it happened that the Quebec Bar had then suffered the loss of several of its prominent and successful practitioners. Clients who were thus suddenly cast adrift from their legal moorings were glad not only to welcome but to confide in a gentleman of Mr. Caron’s address, ability, and good repute. Thus his business and his briefs accumulated with enviable rapidity.

An Act to incorporate Quebec having been passed by the Parliament of Lower Canada, Mr. Caron, at the instance of many friends, was, in the year 1832, elected to represent the St. Lewis’ ward in the City Council. In 1833, he was elected Mayor, an office which he continued to fill until 1837, when the Act under which the city was incorporated expired by limitation. Honors and duties now began to gather about his path with almost embarrassing rapidity. In 1834, he was invited to become a candidate for Parliamentary honors, and such was his popularity that he was returned by acclamation as representative of the Upper Town of Quebec in the Legislative Assembly. Thus at a very early age was ambition gratified. Honor, power, and distinction, had sought for and had followed after him. It was not necessary for him to climb, he had been carried without effort of his own to coveted heights. The work was accomplished moreover in dangerous times, and when he was surrounded by circumstances of an unsteadying kind. Would his fame bear the ordeal through which he was about to pass? Would he escape “sin free,” and fulfil his duty to his party and to the Province, to his countrymen and to his country?

It should be borne in mind that when Mr. Caron entered Parliament, the flush of youth had not passed from his brow, and the fire of youth had not died out of his heart. The desire to live in the grateful recollections of his race was the animating law of his life. His ambition was to raise the political condition of his countrymen and to secure for them an equal share of the rights and trusts, privileges and emoluments, which were enjoyed by the British subjects of the crown in Canada. It was no easy course, which Mr. Caron had set himself to steer. It was no easy warfare he had undertaken to wage. His aim was to reconcile loyalty with patriotism, to be true to his allegiance and true to his race. To fight successfully he was compelled to show a double front to his opponents, to face at the same time in opposite directions. When addressing the British party, he was obliged to speak as a French Canadian. When addressing his own countrymen, he could not do otherwise than speak as a British subject. In rebuking the English party, he would fail to win their favor, or the smiles of the Court. In rebuking the French party, he would be suspected of unfaithfulness to those principles to which that party appeared to be committed. Nor should it be lost sight of that the delirium of passion which seemed to possess Mr. Papineau, and which gave light to his speech and force to his periods, was a dangerous substitute for reason, for it flattered and beguiled, it allured and misled. Though deficient in argument, Mr. Papineau’s speeches were conspicuous for oratory. They were a dazzling mixture of feeling and passion, a dangerous compound which issued seething hot from his heart. It was such oratory as a tribune of the people would practice, who would move men to strife, such oratory as a statesman would avoid, who would rule men in peace. Though a fanatic, Mr. Papineau was a sincere one; though self-deceived, he was no deceiver—he believed what he said. Possessing a commanding presence and unrivalled rhetorical power, he was arrogantly wedded to the pride of his own opinions and the revolutionary aims of his own policy. Holding as the first commoner of Lower Canada the highest position which his countrymen could bestow, he cared little for any obligations which had not their centre in his own imperious will. Constitutional, usage, the courtesies of debate, the restraints of parliamentary forms were nothing to him if they presented obstacles to the duties which, in the intolerance of his convictions, he thought would minister to the advantage of his race. His judicial duty as Speaker of the Commons did not restrain him from sneering at the Court, scoffing at the Crown, and defying the governing party of the Province. His measured eloquence like balanced music fell on a listening house, or leaped like devastating flame in congenial stubble through the heated minds of his auditory; and whether it persuaded or appalled, it was acknowledged gratefully by unpremeditated cheers. If, however, there was vitriol as well as virtue in his wrath, the former was especially reserved for such of his younger countrymen who would not think as he thought, dream as he dreamed, hope as he hoped, say as he said, and do as he did. Mr. Caron was one of those. He not only displayed the courage to think for himself, but he had the audacity to give to the Assembly the advantage of his thoughts. There had, it may be observed, been some defections in the ranks of those who had theretofore supported Mr. Papineau, including, besides others, such men as Messieurs Neilson, Bedard, Vanfelson, and Huot of Quebec, and Messieurs Quesnel and Cuvillier of Montreal. Mr. Lafontaine, we may note in passing, whatever he may have thought, voted steadily with Mr. Papineau, and, of course, “differed in opinion” with Mr. Caron. The seceding members recognized the existence of an anxious desire on the part of the Home Government to enquire into alleged grievances, and to redress established wrongs. Mr. Caron gave his adhesion and support to the sagacious few, and took occasion in a speech of considerable force to counsel the policy as well as the duty of receiving gracefully and patiently the Imperial projects of amelioration. This speech, proceeding as it did from a youthful member of what he had regarded as the enthusiastic section of his party, gave Mr. Papineau dire offence, and occasioned an answer which, though not creditable to one who was Speaker of the House, and an eloquent advocate of the theory of liberty, produced a telling effect beyond, as well as within its walls. A large number of the electors of Quebec assembled at some place of convenient resort, and from thence walked in procession to Mr. Papineau’s lodgings where they presented that gentleman with an address, in which they had, it is scarcely conceivable, the abject folly to thank him for having soundly rated their representative in the House of Assembly. Mr. Caron had, when the occasion required, shown that he was not deficient in wisdom. He now determined also to show that he was not deficient in spirit. The honor of representing the Upper Town of Quebec in Parliament was not of his seeking; it would cost little to give back again what he had not asked for. The privileges of Parliament, including the liberty of speech and the right of free discussion, were a part of his birthright as a British subject, which he determined should not be sacrificed in his person. After the gratuitous affront which his constituents had gone out of their way to offer, he took the earliest opportunity which the forms of the Assembly permitted to vindicate his own opinions, and to rebuke the Speaker for his unparliamentary attempt, by direct and extraneous pressure, to encourage a system of terror and to stifle the freedom of debate. He concluded a speech of telling force by resigning his seat in the Assembly.

The straightforward conduct of Mr. Caron was followed by consequences, directly as well as remotely, beneficial to him. When the events of 1837 culminated in bloodshed, many, who had scarcely reflected that such effects could have flowed from such causes, found themselves to be hopelessly involved in the wretched calamities of those calamitous times. Happily for Mr. Caron, the breath of suspicion had not dimmed the brightness of his career. He had kept two purposes steadily before him, fidelity to his country, and fidelity to his race; and the time was about to arrive when, in the interest of the former, his influence would be welcomed to secure equal justice to the latter. In the meanwhile he addressed himself to the duties of mercy, and earnestly sought, by judicious intervention, to soften the weight of those judgments which were about to fall on such of his countrymen as had been overtaken in their inconceivable follies. On the advice of the Earl of Gosford, he was summoned by royal mandamus to a seat in the Legislative Council—a seat which he had no opportunity to take, for the troubles intervened, and the old Parliament of Lower Canada was not again destined to assemble. The history of those unhappy times must in many ways be associated with sorrowful memories, yet we venture to think that to the subject of our sketch the retrospect is not without solace. In his own court of conscience, as well as by the general judgment of his countrymen, no stain of bloodguiltiness rests upon his name. None were led astray by his counsels, and the wisdom of his opinions has been illustrated by the logic of events. His faith in the triumph of British justice has been amply vindicated, for the alleged wrongs of his race have been fully and satisfactorily redressed. The period was a dark one in the annals of Canada, but it preceded the dawn. We can now, by the aid of an untroubled light, read a fairer page of her history.

On the revival, in an altered form, of the Act incorporating the City of Quebec, Mr. Caron was nominated by His Excellency, Lord Sydenham, to the office of Mayor; and when the law was further amended, and an elected was substituted for a nominated chief magistrate, the choice again fell on the subject of our sketch. It is not often that the two opposite modes of appointment meet in the same person. In the present instance, royal favor and popular choice agreed together in preferring Mr. Caron to the office of Mayor, an office which he continued to fill until 1846.

The destruction by fire of the greater portion of the city of Quebec in the months of May and June 1845 not only entailed unusual labor and responsibility on him in his office of Mayor, but it gave occasion to his being called upon to exercise as the elected Chairman of the relief committee of the citizens, those qualities of tact, courtesy, and impartiality by which he has always been eminently distinguished. While thus occupied, Mr. Caron seems never to have lost sight of the fact that he and those who were associated with him were engaged in works of equity and justice, as well as of benevolence and charity. That they were the almoners of the bounty of other people, the stewards of wealth, ungrudgingly given by many nations, and transmitted in currencies so diverse that perhaps not one member of that committee could have counted it in the coinage in which it was contributed. As the trustees of such unparalleled benevolence it was Mr. Caron’s anxious care that their counsels should not be blemished by any words of violence; by any act which would show a forgetfulness of the divine grace of charity which had moved the givers, and which ought to govern the dispensers of the gifts.

“The charities that soothe, and heal, and bless” in Mr. Caron’s practice do, and in his opinion, should “shine aloft” like stars. It was this controlling principle, this power of gentleness which caused the labors of that committee to diffuse themselves in labors of love. While thus working for the material benefit of others, it is probable that Mr. Caron was receiving wealth into his own soul. In his direct intercourse with other people and other races, the representatives of various denominations and different origins; his thoughts would become enlarged, while a more extensive view of mankind must have softened many prejudices, created juster thoughts and perhaps have changed hereditary aversion into actual sympathy. It may have taught his gentle mind to see “good in everything,” and “hating no one” to discover excellence in all. It is pleasant to note that Mr. Caron’s fellow citizens did not fail to detect in him the qualities he had discovered in them. With the conclusion of his labors as chairman of the committee of citizens, he also determined his official connection with the city by resigning the office of Mayor. All classes concurred in presenting him with an address which is too affectionate in its terms to be described as complimentary merely. It was accompanied with a handsome presentation of plate, the inscription on which we are permitted to extract:

























In 1841 Mr. Caron took his seat in the Legislative Council of the United Province. His is the first French Canadian name on the members’ roll of that honorable house. In 1843, when the important question was discussed of selecting a place for the permanent Seat of Government for Canada, twelve Legislative Councillors, including the Speaker, marked the fact of their defeat by an act of petulance, and a strong protest, supplementing both by retiring in a body from the House. The transaction wore a dramatic appearance at the time, and, as a kind of state pantomime, it was not without merit. Whether it was as conspicuous for senatorial wisdom as it was for picturesque effect, are questions which need not be discussed here. It is satisfactory to know that the members who deserted in a brigade returned to their duties in single files, and it is consoling to believe that they were not reproached for their astonishing eccentricity. The peculiar transaction was at the time exceedingly inconvenient, for it brought legislation to a close, as the recusant members included not only half of the actual body of the House, but the whole of its official head. His Excellency Lord Metcalfe was immediately obliged to take measures to repair the loss of the latter by appointing a new Speaker. The difficulty of doing so was increased by the circumstance that the misunderstanding had then commenced which led shortly afterwards to the resignation of Mr. Sullivan’s administration. His Excellency therefore took measures of his own to mend matters in the Legislative Council, by requesting the venerable Mr. John Neilson, of Quebec, to accept the vacant office of Speaker. The proffered honor was, for reasons with which we are unacquainted, declined by that gentleman. Then the Governor General sent for Mr. Caron, and stated frankly the difficulty in which he found himself, and asked that gentleman to fulfil the duties of the office until the end of the session, when other arrangements would be made. With every disposition to assist His Excellency, Mr. Caron, for reasons which he considered sufficient, did not feel at liberty to accept the temporary duty; but, at the request of Lord Metcalfe, he deferred till the following morning returning a final answer. In the meanwhile Mr. Caron and Mr. Neilson, who were old and fast friends, met, and on comparing notes, discovered an important variance in the Governor’s offers. The office was offered to Mr. Neilson unaccompanied by any limitation. To Mr. Caron, it was offered only for a specified period. The latter very naturally regarded the difference in the two proposals with great disfavor, not on account of the pecuniary advantages of the post, for at that time no salary was attached to the office; but he fancied the distinction included in some way a slight to him, and, through him, to his origin. On the following day, therefore, accompanied by Mr. Neilson, Mr. Caron waited on the Governor General, when His Excellency frankly explained that the distinction was attributable to the fact, that, as the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly was a gentleman of French origin, it would, he thought appear fairer if the Speaker of the Legislative Council were a gentleman of British origin; but His Excellency added that he would gladly waive such objection, if by doing so he could secure the services of the subject of our sketch. Mr. Caron thereupon signified his willingness to accept the office. The conversation is noteworthy, because it showed, on the part of Mr. Caron, a statesmanlike wish to maintain, for all the purposes of Government, the absolute unity of the Province. The incipient sectionalism which found expression in Lord Metcalfe’s benevolent intentions, and which since then has been more fully developed under the action of Sir Louis Lafontaine’s policy, received no countenance at that time from Mr. Caron. Before the close of that session the threatened rupture between Lord Metcalfe and his advisers actually took place, and those embarrassments commenced, which continued, with more or less aggravation, to the close of His Excellency’s rule in Canada. On the formation of Mr. Daly’s Government, which included Mr. Viger and Mr. Draper, Lord Metcalfe sent for Mr. Caron, and invited him to accept office, with a seat in the Executive Council. Mr. Caron, in declining the honor, reminded His Excellency that Mr. Viger was now a very aged man, who was more respected for his past, than relied on for his present services to the liberal party of Lower Canada; that in joining such a Government, he (Mr. Caron) would not only fail to win support, but he would lose any influence he now possessed with his countrymen; and he added that any French Canadian who imitated Mr. Viger’s mistake, would only share in his disappointment. Before leaving Kingston for Quebec, Mr. Caron waited on Lord Metcalfe to take leave. On that occasion His Excellency spoke kindly, and without reserve, on many subjects of public interest. When shaking hands, he said, “Mr. Caron, I wish you to watch my government, and to follow my career; you will not find that I shall do injustice or wrong to your countrymen.”

It was, however, difficult to rule with a ministry of three members only, and none knew better than those gentlemen that if they would succeed in governing the country, they must increase as well as strengthen the administration. On the 10th of March, 1844, by command of His Excellency the Governor General, Mr. Viger was directed to invite the subject of our sketch to accept the office of Attorney General for Lower Canada, adding, in the event of his doing so, that it would be necessary for him to secure a seat in the Legislative Assembly; the offer was supplemented with the condition that, should the necessity arise, a way of retreat to the Legislative Council should be kept open. Mr. Caron, however, had no greater reason then than he had five months before, to take an encouraging view of the Ministerial prospects. He therefore expressed graceful regret at his inability to share Mr. Viger’s hopes, and added a polite apology for declining to participate in Mr. Viger’s responsibility.

In September, 1844, the Government was strengthened by the accession of three members in the persons of the Honorable Messrs. Wm. Morris, D. B. Papineau, and James Smith. New elections took place immediately afterwards, which gave the Ministry a small majority in the House of Assembly, and enabled them, with some difficulty, to get through a Session. Parliament was prorogued on the 29th March, 1845. It was, however, apparent to the administration, that the country was not being satisfactorily governed, and that it was absolutely necessary to obtain increased support in Lower Canada. The “Quebec party” was therefore again thought of, and the Honorable Mr. Draper, instead of Mr. Viger, was invested with the duty of negociating with Mr. Caron. This negociation was carried on by letters, intended to be confidential, between Messieurs Draper and Caron. In the course of its progress other persons became parties to the correspondence, till at length it passed in some not easily explained way, without the consent of the principals, into the possession of Parliament. As a collection of state papers, the letters will at this day amply repay perusal. The point from which Mr. Caron seemed to start, though subsequently modified in deference to the expressed opinions of Sir Louis Lafontaine, may, after all, have been the more statesmanlike one. At all events the experiment of substituting the principle of duality for the principle of unity in the Government of the Province has not satisfactorily stood the test of experience. Mr. Caron, as he had done on a previous occasion, seemed naturally to assume that a united Province with but one Parliament should possess but one Government. Sir Louis Lafontaine, on the contrary, appeared to think that a Province which had been united for the purposes of Legislation, should be divided for the purposes of Government, and though a wiser plan may have been practicable, his view, it must be confessed, was supported by arguments not deficient in plausibility. The experiment has, however, been tried, and with but indifferent success. One half of the recommendation, the “double majority,” has been abandoned as unserviceable; and evils which were not provided against, have so seriously depreciated the value of the other half, that statesmen are obliged to look abroad for remedies which they are unable to discover at home. The dual plan involved a conventional if not a statutory re-division of the Province according to its former boundaries; but the separated parts, being unequal in population and territory, the measure has resulted as it was calculated to result, in a revival of enmities; in hostility instead of harmony; in sectional discontent instead of general tranquillity. Had no such division been insisted upon, had unity instead of separation been provided for, it may be questioned whether an Upper and Lower Canada representation cry would have been raised. By creating two sections, their respective populations were provoked to compare those sections, and the comparison being followed by the discovery of important inequalities, a cry for adjustment inevitably followed. Thus, the creation of sections for political purposes led to the comparison of sections by persons interested in those purposes,—the comparison, to the discovery of inequalities, and the inequalities to the passionate cry for redress and adjustment.

The Draper-Caron correspondence was productive of no advantage. It was, we suppose, intended to be beneficial, though it seemed to lack heartiness and sincerity, as if the writers did not thoroughly trust one another. As between Mr. Caron and Sir Louis Lafontaine, it is probable that Mr. Draper failing to win both, would have been happy to accept either; he was not apparently embarrassed by any passionate preference. The whole affair suddenly collapsed, and the only result was to intensify the political atmosphere, and aggravate the quarrel between a weak government and a powerful opposition.

Mr. Caron however still filled the office of Speaker of the Legislative Council. His intermediate political position enabled him to retain the confidence of his own party, and to be persistently courted by the opposite one. The Government in the meanwhile continued to live, but their existence was a very precarious one. The reasons which induced Mr. Draper, in 1845, to open a correspondence with Mr. Caron prompted Mr. Cayley, in 1847, to repeat the effort. The “Cayley-Caron” correspondence was followed by no better result to the country than the one which preceded it. It ended differently however to one of the parties. The position of moderator, which Mr. Caron had theretofore filled, was no longer to be enjoyed by him. Since they could not win him, the Government of the day determined that they would lose him; as he was not for them, they decreed that he should be against them. On the 18th May, 1847, Mr. Daly, by command, was instructed to inform Mr. Caron that the office of Speaker of the Legislative Council was in future to be a political one, and “that therefore His Excellency had found it necessary to direct the revocation of his commission as Speaker of the Legislative Council.” This act, while it did not strengthen the Government, had the effect of increasing the cohesion and consequently the force of the opposition.

Seven changes were made in the component parts of the Executive Council during the year 1847. Members were added, and members were withdrawn, and certainly if a rapid series of stimulating experiments could promote longevity, that anxious and much perplexed administration ought to have arrived at a good old age. Moreover it had faith in itself and in its recuperative powers; but this faith, though boldly professed was not justified by the result. To be sure it was lively, but then it was dwarfed and shrivelled and confined only to the cabinet; it was not shared by the country. Ministers did not however appear to lose heart, they very pluckily determined to go to the country, and to this end they advised His Excellency the Earl of Elgin to dissolve Parliament. The result of the elections led to the mortifying discovery, that they were in a hopeless minority. They met Parliament on the 25th February, 1848, and on the 10th March, following resigned their offices. Sir Louis Lafontaine was then charged with the duty of forming an administration which included, among other arrangements, the appointment of Mr. Caron, as a member of the administration, and his restoration to the position of Speaker of the Legislative Council; a position for which he was eminently qualified by patient study, by previous experience, as well as by the tact and temper which had governed his presidency, and the grace and courtesy which appear to be inseparable from every act of his life. This office he continued to fill until 1853, when he was appointed Judge of the Superior Court and afterwards of the Court of Queen’s Bench. In 1859, he was chosen as one of the commissioners for codifying the Laws of Lower Canada, the important duties of which highly responsible situation he still continues to discharge.

With the determination of those duties it is probable that he will resume his old place in the Queen’s Bench, and the public and the profession will thus again enjoy the advantage of his presence in a court in which he is said to preside with great address and efficiency. One regret must associate itself with our reflections on Mr. Caron’s public career. As Speaker of the Legislative Council, he studied patiently and with profound respect for English authority, the somewhat intricate principles of parliamentary law and practice. Constitutional usage with him possessed the force of law. He knew how much the principles of public liberty were to be ascribed to the forms in which they were clothed and to the conditions by which they were governed. The necessities of his office obliged him to study those forms and those conditions, and the clear quality of his mind inclined him to respect them. Should the future constitution of the Legislative Council include the nomination of judges as ex-officio members, the public will probably indulge the hope that the subject of our sketch will not decline to give to that Council the advantage of his great experience and wise example.


“A man he seems of cheerful yesterdays,

 And confident to-morrows.”

If there be a class of mankind addicted to dreary thoughts and maudlin imaginings, to whom the notes of joy are distraction, and the mutterings of discontent a charm, who seek for sympathy in tears, and for happiness in groans, no one of that inconsolable tribe could have been present to the mind of Wordsworth when he wrote the lines which preface our sketch. If, however, there be any such individual of the Canadian type, who, from physical infirmity or intellectual derangement, is disposed to dwell in a moral fog, to whom cheerfulness is crime, and mirthfulness rank lunacy; who, from a sense of duty walks on the shady side of the hedge, or from a feeling of despondency looks at the dark side of the clouds, it may be for his health to make the acquaintance of the bright and sunny character, whose familiar features have been limned by the sun on the opposite page.

Of course it may be objected that a dismal aide-de-camp would be as much out of place as a cheerful mute; that staff officers are expected, at least in the drawing room, to be as bright as their uniforms; for in their lighter and least important duties they are official contrivances, especially adapted to abate care and diffuse joy. In the ordinary sense, such opinions may be correct. Staff officers, with ill-defined general duties, may nevertheless be said to have well-defined special ones. On occasions of state and ceremony, at balls and festivals, they are burdened with certain cares. It is charming to observe with what unselfish heroism a well educated staff officer will sink his preferences, and almost sacrifice himself, to give zest to the entertainment of the official on whose staff he happens to be. It is edifying to note with what well dissembled pleasure he dances with the awkward girl, and waltzes with the plain one; with what easy, high-bred address he makes the neglected girl feel that for the moment she is envied, or the shy one forget her shyness. He is perfectly aware that the success of a ball depends on the active movement of what may commonly be regarded as its immovable parts, and that, this heavy difficulty being provided for, the festive gathering will, as a matter of course, go off with applause and be remembered as a triumph. These, and such as these, may be among the social obligations of the younger staff officers, still they are not matters of indifference to more experienced persons. Official entertainments are, it is to be feared, generally given as matters of duty, and perhaps also as a means of popularity. They should, therefore, be so given and so managed as to re-act gracefully on those who give them. Such desirable results will very much depend not only on the graciousness of the host and hostess, but on the knowledge and address of the staff in attendance on the occasion.

In this, as in some other matters, the greater includes the less. The higher duties of the Provincial aide-de-camp include the less responsible ones of the youngest member of the staff. Still it is not because Colonel Irvine, with cheerful condescension, makes himself useful at a drawing room, that his office and its responsibilities are not of serious concern to the Province. In truth, it is alike difficult to define as it is to exaggerate the importance of those duties. It is not easy to parry a sneer, and it is impossible to gauge a slight. History informs us of the baneful influence of the former, and of the fatal consequences of the latter: and it is, we believe, considered to be the especial province and duty of the Provincial Lord Chamberlain to exert his high official influences to prevent a recurrence of evils which, however remotely, might tend to an uncomfortable repetition of history.

Socially, the Provincial aide-de-camp is in Canada the channel of communication between the crown and the subject. Though not the Lord Steward, he is, in a Provincial sense, the chief officer of the vice-regal household, the Provincial prime counsellor and confidential adviser of His Excellency the Governor General in matters connected with the grace and benevolence of the crown. His suggestions are supposed to give inclination to the hospitalities of the court. His thought and experience should, therefore, be so wisely exerted that none are neglected whom it is customary to honor; that none are slighted whom it is usual to remember. Again the Provincial aide-de-camp is the duly accredited intermediary between the representative of the sovereign and the Queen’s subjects in the colony. No matter how extensive may be the personal staff of the Governor General, it is the especial duty of the Provincial aide-de-camp to present persons desiring to be introduced and to a certain extent he is responsible for the propriety of such presentations. On more important occasions he is expected to possess the tact of a diplomatist and the address of a courtier. He is required to be acquainted with the flexible qualities of both languages, to possess a graceful aptitude for decorous writing; for, like an expert lapidary, he is supposed to know in what manner to put a polished interpretation on an unpolished instruction; how to say a disagreeable thing agreeably, a rough thing smoothly, a stingy thing gently. Indeed the uninitiated may well be excused if they can better admire than understand the process through which the curt notes of a commanding officer are filtered and clarified, and made fit for reproduction and service in some one or more of the many kinds of state sentences which are especially familiar to the experience of the staff.

If, for example, Colonel Irvine, like charming old Pepys, jots down his experiences, may we not forestall time, and, in a weak way illustrate our meaning by tearing an imaginary leaf from


”Wednesday.—In waiting to-day, Lackland and Poyntz came in for a gossip. Mr. Mucilaginous Burr called, and requested a further interview on his theory of applying pneumatics to Legislation. I entered the cloth doors, and informed His Excellency. Whereupon the Governor General being moved to temper, said, in tones of much anger, ‘Mr. Burr be —— blessed.’ (My evil mind misgave me, I fear it was another word that rushed to the tip of the vice-regal tongue; but I was pleased to note that His Excellency had the grace to stifle it with his lips.) ‘Pray, get rid of the adhesive creature,’ quoth His Excellency, ‘tell him to go to Anticosti and apply pneumatics to himself. I drive at two.’ On returning to the waiting room, I informed Mr. Burr, that the Governor General was urgently engaged and could not see him then, but, I added cheerfully, ‘His Excellency is moved by your zeal, for he has directed me to recommend you to pay the fine day a compliment by going somewhere to take the air. His Excellency will do the same, he drives at two.’ Mr. Burr was touched and grateful, and retired in a charitable frame of mind. Lackland and Poyntz who heard my rendering, laughed heartily when I told them exactly the direction I had received.”

It is true that Colonel Irvine was not educated for the duties which he has displayed such tact in discharging. On the contrary, it is probable that his father, the Honorable James Irvine, who, for upwards of forty years, was a leading merchant of Quebec, a member of the Legislative Council, and President of the Board of Audit, may have wished his son to continue the career of honorable commerce in which he had so well succeeded. Be this as it may, the subject of our sketch was at an early period of life animated with the marital spirit so common to the youth of Canada, which inclined him as it has done many besides, to cultivate military tastes, and indulge in military studies. Having, as a militia officer, learnt something of a soldier’s duties, the Colonel found no difficulty, when the troubles occurred in 1837, in raising a company of Volunteers. This, with other companies, were formed in a battalion, under the command of Colonel Baird of the 66th Regiment. In 1838, at the desire of Lieut. General, Lord Seaton, Colonel Irvine raised a regiment of one thousand strong for active service in Canada. The duty was accomplished with such alacrity, that within ten days after he had received the order, the regiment was reported to be, and was ready for garrison service. It was disbanded in 1840, on which occasion Colonel Irvine was highly and deservedly complimented in district orders by Major General, Sir James McDonnell, and in general orders by Lieut. General, Lord Seaton. In the same year he was appointed Deputy Quarter Master General of Militia. It was not however at this time that Colonel Irvine received his first staff appointment, for in the year 1837, he acted as extra aide-de-camp to His Excellency the Earl of Gosford. Three years afterwards he was officially appointed extra Provincial aide-de-camp, and in 1850 he was gazetted as full Provincial aide-de-camp. Being thus brought into contact with the different noblemen and gentlemen who have successfully governed, or administered the Government of Canada, the subject of our sketch has we believe had the great good fortune to be appreciated and trusted by them all. In truth, it could scarcely be otherwise, for the Colonel appears to combine in his person qualities that do not always meet in the same character. He is a cheerful and a genial man, and yet a discreet and a guarded one. He is fond of society, delights in its innocent amusements, and enjoys with a pure relish the charms of social intercourse. And yet it is to be observed that he is as prudent as he is popular. People will learn nothing from him which he ought not to communicate. The ties of honor and confidence, by which he is bound to all Governors and to all Governments are held to be inviolable, and they are therefore always guarded with religious respect.

In 1860, Colonel Irvine was appointed to attend His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, on his official tour through Canada. The duties on that occasion were necessarily arduous as well as varied, but they were discharged in such a way as to win the approval of the Prince, who was pleased to express his high sense of those services. Among Colonel Irvine’s many qualifications, there is one which should not be lost sight of. It is a royal, and at the same time an invaluable gift to one whose duties include the obligation of accurately remembering persons; he appears never to forget a face, and he is rarely at fault in recalling a name. In fact official forgetfulness is not an infirmity of his; he remembers things as well as persons. The practical military knowledge, for example, which he acquired in 1840, had not escaped him in 1860. The proper authorities appear to have been so well impressed with this truth, that they selected Colonel Irvine for the temporary duty which the case required, by appointing him acting Adjutant General of Militia, in attendance during the tour of the Prince of Wales. The Volunteers in different parts of the Province were, we believe, well pleased at the manner in which their organization was turned to account by the acting Adjutant General, and we have been informed that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, as well as His Excellency the Governor General, expressed unreserved satisfaction at the successful way in which Colonel Irvine had carried out the duties of his appointment.


It was in the royal days of the more recent history of the Emerald Isle, after freedom was conceded, and before restraints were imposed, when her Parliament was supreme, and legislation and conviviality, wisdom and passion, eloquence and eccentricity, held their carnival on college green; when the Lord Lieutenant was ex-officio and for the time being almost a regal personage, when the Castle was a court, and Dublin a city of national and political as well as of collegiate and commercial importance. It was in those halcyon days of fiction, those miserable ones of experience, that two young men of noble Irish birth, of considerable class influence and great military promise, were attached to the Staff of the Lord Lieutenant. In their persons they were young enough to be loved, and in their position they were exalted enough to be envied, while their prospects were bright enough to form subjects of valuable speculation to mercenary men and manœuvring women. They were precisely those darlings of fortune around whom many thoughts fluttered. Fathers had opinions with respect to them which they kept to themselves. Mothers had hopes which they were less able to conceal; and daughters, too, being neither devoid of reason nor deficient in fancy, found their happiness accelerated by the discovery that the reflections in their mirrors agreed with the reflections of their minds, and added strength to the inclination of their hearts to “doat on the Staff.”

The first of those favored youths was Arthur Wellesley, aged nineteen, a younger son of Lord Mornington; and the second was Thomas Talbot, aged seventeen, a scion of the noble family of the Talbots of Malahide, in the County of Dublin. Though a younger man, the latter at that time was the senior officer. He received his commission of ensign at the early age of eleven years, and, when a little over twenty-four, he commanded as Lieut. Colonel the fifth regiment of the line. Arthur Wellesley did not attain to similar rank until a period somewhat later; for it was not till 1794, when he was twenty-five years of age, that he was, as Lieut. Colonel, preferred to the command of the thirty-third Regiment. Historically and by descent young Talbot came of a martial race; for the Irish branch of that great family derive from a common stock with the illustrious English house whose representative now enjoys the premier Earldom of Shrewsbury; and consequently they blend with their line directly or collaterally the blood of that great Captain of the feudal age; perhaps the greatest Captain of that age; by means of whose terrible name the matrons of France were said to menace their refractory children to rest. The Countess of Auvergne, in Shakespeare’s play of Henry VI, is represented as saying,

                    “What! is this the man?

                    Is this the scourge of France?

Is this the Talbot, so much fear’d abroad,

That with his name the mothers still their babes?”

There was, too, another ancestor of the subject of our sketch who is referred to in less complimentary terms. He was the “lying Dick Talbot” of Macaulay’s history, who, during the reign of James the second, was Duke of Tyrconnel. This title died in his failure to render Ireland independent of the British Crown.

It might be instructive to trace the careers of the two Staff officers of 1788. Their course, commencing at the same point, was strangely dissimilar, and their ends widely different. In their separation each went opposite ways; and when they last met, after sixty years, the notes of their contrary lives, if they compared them, must have suggested very different and very dissimilar reflections.

From 1790 to 1794 the life of Arthur Wellesley is chiefly marked by exchanges and promotions from one corps to another, the usual struggles and contrivances of men who, possessing the means, are not unwilling to purchase preferment. At length he arrived at the command of the thirty-third regiment, a regiment with which his name is, and will be evermore united in fame. After leaving the staff of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, being then only a subaltern, Mr. Talbot joined the twenty-fourth regiment, then stationed at Quebec. In 1793 he obtained his company, and his majority. Previously, in 1791, he was attached to the staff as private and confidential secretary of the first Governor of Upper Canada, Lieut. General Simcoe. In 1799 he returned to Europe where the two staff officers of 1788-90, Arthur Wellesley and Thomas Talbot, if they met, may have congratulated each other on attaining the command of a regiment. Those young officers with their regiments were in the year last mentioned ordered abroad. They served under the Duke of York in the unfortunate campaign in Flanders. Each had therefore the opportunity of acquiring in the school of adversity his earliest lessons in the art of war. But those lessons were not applied alike. The thoughts of one, in obedience to the law of duty were, we may conjecture, addressed to the consideration of the manner in which victory may be wrung from disaster, triumph from misfortune, and glory from disgrace. The thoughts of the other, in obedience to the law of taste, eluded the contemplation of such subjects, and meditated on other and far different themes. If we would follow the career of the former, we must turn over the pages of history and march in the track of human civilization and national persistency. We must read it on the coral strands of India, in the sack of Seringapatam, and in the victory of Assaye. We must read it in the agony of Europe, in the heroism of Portugal, in the desolation of Spain. We must read it, written in blood, by the rivers, fortresses, and hill sides of the Peninsula. We must read it from that throbbing point of time when Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Wellesley, calm and self-possessed, unfurled the battle flag of his country on the banks of the Tagus; till that other time when, rapturous with victory, he bore it in triumph on the bosom of the Seine. We must read it in his subsequent career of earnest continuous self-denying duty, in those paths of peace and usefulness which ceased not until his mortal remains, honored, wept and lamented, were placed side by side with the precious dust of Nelson; where the victors on both elements, in their shrouds of glory, “with all their country’s honors crown’d,” sleep peacefully together in the tomb which a grateful nation has set apart for their rest.

The lessons acquired by Colonel Talbot in the school of adversity appeared to leave a very different impression, and were certainly turned to very different account to those above referred to. The science of war apparently possessed no attraction to him, and it ceased to be a study. The arts of peace and the occupations of peace increased in favor as the fascination of arms declined. The adventurous spirit remained, but the field for its display was not such as the Netherlands had presented to his experience, or such as a state of war, and of reverses consequent on war, recalled to his memory. The weapons of the camp were sheathed or exchanged for the implements of the farm. A career which had been commenced in civilization, and was carried on amidst the whirl of human passion, was felt to be unsatisfactory. With the impetuosity of youth, acting under the guidance of a strong will, Colonel Talbot determined to abandon what he seemed not to care for, and to seek amidst the wilds of nature, and the unbroken solitude of a new world, for a more attractive and congenial way of life. The charm of the Canadian climate, and the simple habits of the Canadian race, were remembered by one to whom civilization had probably become weariness, and to whom the prizes which success confers had lost their attraction. The state of the times and the state of his thoughts seemed to harmonize; for at this particular period the Treaty of Amiens was ratified, and consequently there flashed before the minds of some a vision, illusive and of short duration as it turned out to be, of European tranquillity and universal peace.

Colonel Talbot, having chosen his course, sold his commission. He then put himself into correspondence with General Simcoe, on the subject of returning to and settling in Canada. Thus we find in the month of February, 1803, the last named officer writing to Lord Hobart in terms of friendship, on the character and claims of Colonel Talbot, not only to the usual grant of five thousand acres of land, which was commonly made to field officers on their settling in Canada, but, for reasons specially stated, requesting that it should be supplemented by what was equivalent to a further and a much more considerable allotment. The nature of the transaction will be better understood if we make an extract from General Simcoe’s letter.

Somerset Street, Portman Square,

11th February, 1803.

My Lord,

In consequence of Mr. Talbot having acquainted me that Mr. Sullivan, on his presenting a request for a grant of land in the Province of Upper Canada, had intimated it would be proper I should inform your Lordship of Mr. Talbot’s especial services, I took the earliest opportunity of waiting upon your Lordship, and in consequence of the interview which I had the honor to hold with you yesterday, I obey your Lordship’s command in detailing Mr. Talbot’s views, and the nature of his claims to the protection of His Majesty’s Government.

Upon my arrival in Canada, to carry the constitution which had been granted to that Colony into effect, Mr. Talbot accompanied me as my private and confidential secretary into Upper Canada. He remained in my family four years, when he was called home as major of the fifth regiment then ordered to Flanders. During that period he not only conducted many details and important duties incidental to the original establishment of a Colony, in matters of internal regulation, to my entire satisfaction, but was employed in the most confidential measures necessary to preserve that country in peace, without violating, on the one hand, the relations of amity with the United States; and on the other, alienating the affection of the Indian nations, at that period in open war with them.

In this very critical situation, I principally made use of Mr. Talbot for the most confidential intercourse with the several Indian Tribes; and occasionally with His Majesty’s Minister at Philadelphia. These duties, without any salary or emolument, he executed to my perfect satisfaction.

I consider these circumstances, my Lord, as authorizing me in general terms to recommend Mr. Talbot to your consideration and protection. Mr. Talbot’s specific application, which I beg leave to support to the utmost of my power, consists of two points. The first is the grant of five thousand acres of land as a field officer, actually and bona fide, meaning to reside in the Province for the purpose of establishing himself therein. The king’s bounty having been extended to the field officers, who had served during the American war, in grants to a similar extent (exclusive of an allotment of land for every individual which their families might consist of), it was judged expedient by myself, Mr. Chief Justice Osgoode, and other confidential officers of the Crown in that Colony, to extend the provision of five thousand acres to any field officer of character, who, bona fide, should become a settler therein, it being obvious that it was for His Majesty’s interest that a loyal set of European gentlemen should, as speedily as possible, be obtained to take the lead in the several districts. This principle, my Lord, was acted upon at the time of my departure from the country, and should I to this moment have remained in the Government thereof, I could have seen no reason whatever for departing from it. In consequence, had Mr. Talbot been totally unknown to me, except by his character and the high rank he had borne in the king’s service, I should have thought him a most eligible acquisition to this Province, and on this public ground, without hesitation, have granted him 5000 acres on the same principles that had been laid down and acted upon,—this is the first part of Mr. Talbot’s request. The second request of Mr. Talbot is that these 5000 acres may be granted in the Township of Yarmouth, in the County of Norfolk, on Lake Erie, and that the remainder of that Township may be reserved for such a period as may appear advisable to Government, for the purpose of his settling it on the following specific plan, namely: that 200 acres shall be allotted to him for every family he shall establish thereon, fifty acres thereof to be granted to each family in perpetuity, and the remaining 150 acres of each lot to become his property for the expense and trouble of collecting and locating them.

The recommendation of General Simcoe appears to have been received with favor, for General Hunter, then Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, was instructed to carry it out. Thus Colonel Talbot became the proprietor of a considerable tract of land in his own right, and at the same time he received a kind of license of occupation, with conditions of appropriation, of a territory which was in fact a principality in extent, for it comprized we have been informed about twenty-eight of the present townships, and embraced more than half a million acres of land.

As secretary to General Simcoe, Colonel Talbot had accompanied that officer in his tour of inspection through the Province, where he had probably been sensibly struck with the picturesque beauty of that portion of the shores of Lake Erie which is now included in the counties of Norfolk and Elgin, and where he subsequently endeavoured to found an estate which would in Canada support the hereditary dignity of the Talbots of Malahide.

On the twenty-first of May, 1803, Colonel Talbot, accompanied by several men, landed at a place which was then named by him, and is now designated on the map as Port Talbot. There, at a distance of sixty miles from all traces of civilization, the adventurous young officer began the work of founding the “Talbot Settlement.” The project thus commenced was continued with little interruption for, we believe, a period of nearly forty years, and with such success, that at the present time the population resident on the land comprized within the original allocation exceeds one hundred and fifty thousand persons.

The peculiar undertaking was, there can be little doubt, carried out in a peculiar way. What the instrument may have been which bound the Home Government to the individual, how it was phrased, where it was lodged, or what its actual value we cannot undertake to say. It sufficed to cover the rights which the Colonel exercised, and to defy the interference which the colonial authorities did not hesitate to threaten. Surveyor Generals might shake their heads, Crown Lands Commissioners might remonstrate, and Committees of the House of Assembly might inquire and report too, but to no purpose, for the Colonel was indifferent alike to all. He attracted settlers in his own way, sold lands in his own way, and kept registers in his own way. Those ways, it is true, were more remarkable for originality than for exactness, and were unquestionably opposed to the laws of order and precision, which are usually observed in transactions relating to the purchase and transfer of real estate. They seemed, however, to answer the purpose. No cumbrous books with elaborate entries and exact folios were needed. Sheet maps alone were made use of, and those were, we believe, prepared by a surveyor of repute who afterwards resided in the neighbourhood. Those maps appeared to have been almost the only records which the Colonel troubled himself to keep. They were the history of the locality and the narratives of his land transactions, the registers of the settlement, and if not the title deeds of the settlers, they were at least the only guarantees the landlord chose to preserve that title deeds would be issued at later periods. Thus the maps showed the outlines of each separate lot, and were legibly indicated by distinct numbers. The minute white space enclosed within the four lines sufficed for the entry of the transaction. On a bargain being struck between the Colonel and any new settler, the name of the latter was written in pencil on the lot which he elected to take. The retentive qualities of the Colonel’s memory added depth to the coloring of his crayon, and probably increased the value of the record. When transfers of property had to be made, instead of long documents full of words perplexingly repeated, descriptive of the land and its boundaries; the parties had only to present themselves at Port Talbot and state the nature of their wish. If such wish appeared to be honest and fair, and if the Colonel was in a pleasant frame of mind, and approved of the transaction, a piece of india-rubber, in addition to the well worn lead pencil, sufficed for the operation. A was rubbed out with the end of the former, and B inserted by means of the latter. This displacement of names was adopted in the interests of the applicants alone; for if the Colonel thought that either one or the other was attempting to drive too hard a bargain, his india-rubber became immovable, and his old pencil, like a rusty sword, continued to be obstinately sheathed.

It may be here mentioned that the Colonel’s residence, commonly called “Castle Malahide”, was neither more nor less than a group of rough log buildings. The main structure was of a very primitive kind, and consisted of three divisions, viz., a granary, which was also a store room, an office, which was also a dining room, and a kitchen, which was conveniently attached to the two former. Besides this central building, there were others containing bedrooms, to which, however, it is unnecessary especially to refer. To prevent intrusion, the Colonel had one of the panes of glass in his office window removed, and, after the manner of a post-office, a little door was substituted for the removed pane. Through this hole in the window he would talk to those who wished to see him on business. Having fully inspected them, and arrived at conclusions of his own, he would determine whether such persons should or should not be admitted to his more immediate presence. The chief functionary of the establishment next to the Colonel appears to have been his faithful and attached servant, Jeffery Hunter, who seems to have discharged, in addition to the responsible duties of house steward and butler, the more important ones of clerk and keeper of the maps. Thus placed and thus attended, the Colonel held his levees, and gave audience to all who sought him. By way of example let us pause for a moment by the hole in the window, and note his manner of doing business.

“What do you want?” said the Colonel, peering through the open trap, to an Irishman who presented himself for an interview.

“I have a large rising family, Colonel, and I have come to see whether you couldn’t give me two or three hundred acres of land.”

“Not a sod.”

“Well, but I was thinking, Colonel, if you would grant the land, I could improve the settlement.”

“I dare say you could; but listen, Sir, I have no land for you.”

“Ah! well, Colonel,” said the politic Irishman, softly and with a touch of reproach in his tone, “I always heard you were a good friend to the poor, and—”

“I want none of your blarney; you can have one hundred acres in Tilbury West.”

“West! och by this, and by that, but haven’t I come far enough West already? may be y’er honor could give me two or three lots in the town of London.”

“They are all granted; but stop, here, Jeffery, hand me the map.”

Whereupon Jeffery spread the paper plan of the town before the Colonel, who, after some time, said to the applicant:

“Here are two lots on Simcoe street; you can have them.”

“Simcoe street! and where may that be, in the woods most likely; now, Colonel,” here the tone became coaxing and complimentary, “like yourself I am an old soldier, and always wish to look my enemy in the face at close quarters; couldn’t you give me some lots just convanient to the Court House and Gaol?”

Colonel Talbot had little fancy for that sharp, wide awake class of hybrids, “white oak” Canadians, and “hickory” Yankees, and it was therefore no part of his plan to encourage slips of those stocks to take root in the Talbot territory. Such persons offended him, because, as he said, “they made their fortunes by whittling chips.” “They will,” so it was his practice to avow, “trade a shingle for a blind pup, then ‘swop’ the pup for a goose, and then change the goose for a ‘sheep,’ and at length, by a process of dexterous transmutation the original shingle will become metamorphosed into one of the best farms of the Talbot Settlement where the cunning negociator will, confound him, continue to amuse himself by whittling me.”

A fellow of this class, whom we shall call Scrabble, was desirous of obtaining some land from the Colonel, but knowing the aversion of the latter to the human type represented in his person, he took counsel of his ingenuity, and thought he could gain by his wit what he would fail to obtain by his appearance. Meeting with a newly imported Englishman, fresh from the rural scenes and clad in rustic attire of the old country, including a low crowned hat, knee breeches, “highlows,” and a smock frock, Scrabble thought the opportunity favorable to gain the weather side of the Colonel. Borrowing the clothes of the countryman, Scrabble appeared at the audience window, and assuming as well as he could the peculiar dialect of the West of England peasantry, he informed the Colonel of his wants. The latter eyed him angrily through the hole, and then in stentorian tones called aloud to the keeper of the maps—“Jeffery! Jeffery! set on the dogs! set on the dogs! here’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Scrabble vanished, and we have little doubt whittled chips and shingles until he forgot the Colonel’s indignity and his own chagrin. This kind of adventure was no unusual one, for we learn that “Jeffery and the dogs” were not unfrequently called on to curb insolence, or chastise impostors.

Illustrations might be multiplied, were it necessary to do so, of the peculiar way in which Colonel Talbot of Malahide discharged the duties he had undertaken to perform. There is a strong vein of the ludicrous running through those performances. We doubt whether transactions respecting the sale and transfer of real estate were, on any other occasion or in any other place, carried on in a similar way. Pencil and india-rubber performances were, we venture to think, never before promoted to such trustworthy distinction or called on to discharge such responsible duties as those which they described on the maps of which Jeffery and the dogs appeared to be the guardians. There is something irresistibly amusing in the fact that such an estate, exceeding half a million of acres, should have been disposed of in such a manner, with the help of such machinery, and, so far as we are aware, to the satisfaction of all concerned.

It merely shews that a bad system faithfully worked is better than a good system basely managed. “Character is the best security;” no human contrivance can make up for the want of it. The Colonel was scrupulously exact in all business transactions, whether they related either to money or land. Men trusted him, and were careless of the mode in which he managed his trust.

When the Colonel planted his flag staff at Port Talbot in 1803, it is fair to suppose that he had fully counted the cost of his own resolve; and yet there are passages in the history of those early times which are suggestive of extreme privation and great hardship. The nearest flour mill, for example, was situated at a distance of sixty miles from the settlement; and it was connected with it by no road. The mill improvised by the settlers was, we incline to think, of the earliest pattern. The stump of a large tree was selected and hollowed by heated iron to the shape of a mortar. In this mortar, by means of a wooden beetle, the settlers pounded their wheat into a coarse description of meal. In 1807, the Colonel built a mill in the township of Dunwich, which, however, was destroyed by the Americans in the war of 1812. It was not until fourteen years after his arrival that any regular store was established at the port.

Colonel Talbot was, of course, the Agamemnon of his locality, the man of men. His birth, his wealth, his estate, and his position, gave him an influence at that time probably second to none in Canada. He was peculiar in his tastes and eccentric in his manner of life; and though much moved by impulse he was by no means deficient in judgment. With warm feelings of his own, he attached people warmly to him. Always just, he was frequently generous in his transactions with others; and he appeared to be quite content if people would only let him have his own way in his own settlement. In his way he became a kind of idol in the locality, the pivot of their social system, the centre of all their business, and the source of all their pleasures. No wonder, therefore, that the inhabitants resolved to establish a festival in his honor. They unanimously determined to mark their sense of the “friendly patronage and patriarchal care” of Colonel Talbot, by keeping the twenty-first of May, his birth-day, in each year. This festival seems to have been observed for about a quarter of a century. One, however, who appears to remember the first gathering, and who saw the last, has noted somewhat sadly the changes wrought by time and taste. Education and improved circumstances have, it seems, spoiled the hearty homespun of the institution. “Grey and blue stockings,” the writer mournfully remarks, have given place “to silks” and “every variety of fashion.” “Instead,” thus the chronicler with some pathos and a good deal of disregard to the arbitrary obligations of syntax, adds—“Instead of shewing their partners how to cut the figure of eight, crossing hands without gloves, casting them off to dance outside, and then inside the row, down the middle and back again, catching a glance at each other through a long line of broad shoulders, and all this to the inspiring music of the “Soldiers’ Joy,” “Greig’s Pipes,” or “The Triumph;” now they look on with astonishment at the labyrinth of quadrilles and the whirling waltz set to the music of Strauss.” “This is no fancied picture,” he tearfully continues, and contrasting the old with the new times, he boldly affirms that the settlers “were better pleased to see their wives and mothers smoking a pipe than the fashionable belle sniffing a vinaigrette.” The anniversary, taken all in all, appears to have been a very hearty and spirited affair. It commenced early and with a dinner, at which loyal toasts were always given, and a speech by the Colonel was always made. However genial the speech, or varied the subject, and the Colonel relished his joke even though it was occasionally more broad than pointed, the speaker always ended devoutly, in the same affectionate and reverent words “God bless you all.” After dinner, the chronicler, whose recollections have proved very serviceable to us, rising with the scene, informs us, in the language of a court intelligencer, that “each rustic youth bowed to the blooming lass whom he selected for his partner,” and then, oh rapture! “the eightsome reel, the country dance or the cotillion employed the legs, while the arms,” lucky arms, “enjoyed a holiday.” The lads amusing themselves ever and anon, “clipping something in the style of the Spanish fandango” (probably castanets) “to cheer up the dance.” There seems to have been a good deal of fun, and very little formality on those occasions. Much muscular exertion and very probably a strong chorus at the close, in which the words “we won’t go home till morning” were, we venture to think, sung with marked emphasis by the “rustic youth” and “blooming lass,” who, in the earlier part of the entertainment, with expressions of expectant, if not of ripe tenderness, bowed delight to one another in the “eightsome reel.”

Turning from subjects of a social character, we must not omit to mention that in the early days of the settlement, before any clergyman was stationed in the vicinity, Colonel Talbot deemed it to be his duty to celebrate Divine Service on Sundays. He not only read the Church prayers for his own edification, but he invited the settlers to attend and be edified with him. There was, however, one feature of the Sunday ceremonies which was original in itself, instructive as a lesson, and may be worthy of consideration on the part of those who wish to popularize Divine Service and make it exhilarating as well as attractive. At the time we write of, sometimes referred to as the “dry church period,” the Colonel’s innovation possessed the dangerous recommendation of being popular, and in the interests of truth, we are constrained to add, not in the least degree objectionable to the majority of the worshippers. Service being done, the congregation was heartily invited to partake of a liquid repast in the shape of whiskey and water; the Colonel being apparently of the opinion that people might go home hungry, but they should not go home thirsty from Castle Malahide.

Colonel Talbot was a bachelor. The gentle reader will probably wonder why, with such exemplary persistency, he should have clung to a state of social solitude. The speculative reader of the rougher sex will ponder on the means by which he was enabled to escape the snare of the fowler, and at the same time keep his conscience clear and his condition “sole.” Persons whose courage is equal to their curiosity sometimes put direct taxing questions, but they rarely receive encouraging answers. Perhaps the individual interrogated has no story to tell, perhaps ’tis his “humour” to be silent, or perhaps he considers it to be consistent with morality to exchange deception for impertinence, and return misleading answers to rude questions. All we have to record is that the subject of our sketch was a bachelor. Whether he passed through life without scathe or wound, we cannot tell. Perhaps in the core of his heart he had built a shrine, and in the shrine had placed a name, the name of “a maiden fair to see.” Perhaps with the passion of a devotee he had hoarded relics and hid them too in out of the way places; perhaps in some glory hole of that queer log structure there may have been a piece of colorless ribbon faded by time, a small glove of a forgotten fashion or a crushed flower which bloomed long ago; could they have found voices, they might have told tales and explained riddles. But if the ribbon, the glove, or the flower had existence, they have eluded our knowledge, and are passed with the miscellaneous sweepings, and other atoms of idolatry, into the aching void of the irrevocable past.

Colonel Talbot had nearly reached the mature age of four score years, when the desire to visit his native land once more took firm possession of his mind. At the time, however, it was most ardently cherished, the Colonel appeared to be hopelessly ill. The new desire, it would seem, appeared to possess renewing properties, and acted as an elixir. It was scarcely received into the mind, when new life animated the body. To the surprise of all, the patient rallied, and, following the guidance of his will, he journeyed by easy stages till he reached and then safely crossed the Atlantic. What Colonel Talbot’s reason may have been for making that voyage, it is idle, and it would be ill-mannered to inquire. It is, however, interesting to know that among the pleasant incidents of that visit, was the circumstance of finding himself an honored guest at Apsley House. We may well wonder what the two staff officers of 1788-90 talked about, or how they unravelled the webs of their different lives from the common point at which they both started sixty-three years before. Each in his way had done some service to the state, but one only had become distinguished. Thomas Talbot of 1788 still bore his honorable but untitled name. Arthur Wellesley, on the other hand, blazoned by heralds, and luminous with honors, had become Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington, and Commander in Chief of Her Majesty’s forces!

Having, as we may suppose, effected all he wished to accomplish in England, the old Colonel turned his face westward once more. He arrived safely in Canada, and reached, without accident, the neighbourhood in which he had so long resided. His public career closed when the Crown conferred a pension on him, and his life was now rapidly following his career. He died at London, Canada West, on the 6th February, 1853, regretted by many and respected by all. Few men in their day have exerted a greater influence in Upper Canada, and none have sought more kindly or more zealously to advance the interests of the early settlers than the subject of our sketch. His friends and neighbours loved and honored him. His heart was in their fortunes, and his sympathies were coeval with their happiness. He lived for them more than for himself, and the aim, as well as the pride, of his honorable life were fittingly expressed in the few engraved words on the memorial tablet of his oak coffin. They communicated all that he had to tell of a life of struggle crowned with success.







“The Achæans got to Troy, there’s no denying

 All things are done, as they did that, by trying.”

Mr. Charles John Brydges, the Managing Director of the Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada, may be regarded not only as the Grand Voyer but as Le plus Grand Voyer, of the Continent. The modest title “Managing Director” very inadequately conveys a just idea of Mr. Brydges’ duties, although it may express a tolerably accurate one of his position. He has to govern as well as to manage, to rule as well as to direct, to exert despotic power as well as exercise administrative ability. His domain, stretching as it does across many lines of latitude and longitude, would more conveniently be measured by degrees than by miles, and yet it may be questioned whether the wonderful highway over which it extends, has by any means reached its natural termini. Its western point may tap Lake Huron, but it has yet to feel its way, in railroad fashion, to those wonderful granaries of the West which are fed by the inexhaustible prairie lands of America. The central point of its triple prong can go no further, for it touches the Atlantic Ocean at Portland; while the third, stretching eastward, has, for a while only, paused at the Rivière du Loup on the St. Lawrence, from whence it exhibits a praiseworthy desire to push its tendrils through the adjoining Provinces, and, regardless alike of obstacle and discouragement, of prejudice and resistance, to connect the Harbour of Halifax with the inland waters of Lake Huron; and thus establish a solid, in addition to the liquid, highway from the far West through the British possessions to the Atlantic seaboard. Looking at the length of the line of road which is now subject to, and the greater length which may at some future day be subject to his management, we scarcely exaggerate either his influence or his office when we say that Mr. Brydges is not only the Prime Waywarden of America, but that he is the Prince of Waywardens, with no superior in the past, and no equal in the present history of public roads.

Lord Macaulay has observed “that, the alphabet and the printing press alone excepted, those inventions which abridge distance have done most for the civilization of our species.” The moral influence of railways is at present a subject of speculation only. It is not possible to forecast the social, political, or religious effects of the increasing intercourse of all tribes, nations, and tongues; the probable absorption of the smaller in the greater states; the altered manners of their inhabitants; the loss of provincial dialects, accompanied, it may be, by the gradual extinction of the languages of those races, at least, whose literature is comparatively local, and whose population is numerically small. Without speculating on such subjects, we may be allowed, in passing, to observe that railways, and indeed joint stock companies generally, have given rise, if not to a new profession, at least to a new order of men, of whom our forefathers were almost wholly ignorant. Such persons appear to be the legitimate offspring of the new order of things. They come of a sturdy parentage; for they are the direct issue of science and commerce, of intellectual enthusiasm, and of sagacious thrift. It is not enough that the Engineer should make the plans and contrive the means by which a highway, for example, should be built through a marsh, a tunnel bored through a mountain, or a bridge stretched across a river. It is necessary that the Manager should extract profit from science, and demonstrate that the conceptions of genius are consistent with the conditions of trade. The study of the Engineer is to build the road, the study of the Manager is to make it remunerative; and the latter object is, we incline to think, more easily attainable when associated with some knowledge of practical engineering. The selection of the Manager is as important as the choice of the Engineer; for the commercial capabilities of a railway almost wholly depend on the skill and ability with which the Manager can economize and regulate the movement of trains; and thus extract a maximum of profit from a minimum of outlay, and probably obtain as much work from one pair of rails as a less able officer could obtain from two pairs of rails. The want of such experience has given rise to grave mistakes and serious losses. Therefore it is that those who control railway companies have learnt by the discipline of suffering the absolute necessity of educating the class they have occasion to employ. To this end young men are usually chosen for such service. Careful note is taken of their fitness, and, irrespective of all other considerations, they are generally appointed to such posts of trust as they may display fitness to fill. This policy is calculated to add, so far as the employed are concerned, an incentive to industry by crowning success with distinction. It enables the comparatively friendless to determine the conditions of his own career, and as little as possible to be determined by those conditions. It makes him the master, not the slave of circumstances; the architect of his own, and not the instrument merely of another’s fortunes.

The subject of our sketch may very fairly illustrate our view, for he may be said to have taken high honors on matriculating for railway service. Mr. Brydges, who is still a young man, for he was born in February, 1827, was neither indebted to personal nor family influence for what we may be allowed to call his success in life. It is true that his family treasures with commendable pride the tradition that their great ancestor, Sir Simon de Brugge, accompanied “William the Purchaser,” or “William the Conqueror,” it matters not which, to England, that he fought at Hastings, and had therefore a hand in defeating as gallant a King as ever drew sword for the Saxon. Sir Simon, like some modern raiders of less note, having, as we may conjecture, a relish for good quarters, appears to have appropriated, or to have had allotted to him, certain dainty possessions in the ancient Kingdom of Wessex; for time out of mind the race, under the name of Brydges, has held land in Dorsetshire. But though Mr. Brydges’ remote ancestor lived in Dorsetshire, his immediate ones resided near London, where he was born. Their parental care was but of brief continuance, for his father died before he was two years of age; and before six more years had elapsed, his state of orphanhood was so complete that he had not a relative of his own name in the world. Thus early disciplined in the school of self-reliance, it may easily be conjectured that young Brydges made the most of his opportunities. He was sent to a private academy, where he remained until he attained the age of fifteen years. He then obtained service in a merchant’s office. A year afterwards, in 1843, he was appointed to a junior clerkship in the London and South-Western Railway Company. Here his Railway experience commenced. He found himself in the opening of an honorable career, and though it may have been at the outset the reverse of encouraging, he nevertheless hoped to see, perhaps he then saw, beyond the mere routine drudgery of subordinate toil, through a vista smiling and attractive, a time when his name would be honored, his services sought after, and his fortune assured.

The period was unquestionably favorable to such dreamers. The visions they saw were not wrought of baseless fabrics. The Railway system, which has since grown up with such wonderful rapidity, was then in the early stage of its development. If the subject of our sketch did not foresee the extraordinary expansion of which it has proved itself to be capable, or the gigantic proportions which it has since attained, he at all events discerned enough to justify a policy of persistent exertion, to win what he could, and to apply what he won. Thus for nearly ten years he remained in the service of the Company, passing in that comparatively short period through all the lower degrees and different departments of that service, until he was preferred to the post of Assistant-Secretary. Having arrived at the position of heir apparent to the best office in the gift of the company, most persons would have found reason for contentment. Not so with Mr. Brydges. Acquired knowledge of railway matters represented in his estimation accumulated capital which it was his right, as well as his inclination, to place to the best account, and invest in the most remunerative manner. The period of pupilage was past; the time had arrived for him to stamp with his own name the modern chronicle of railway history; to relinquish all secondary positions, and assert his intellectual right to a place among the chief men. Thus he who had worked successfully at home, now looked eagerly abroad; for in the Eastern and Western possessions of the British Crown there arose simultaneously an ardent desire for railway accommodation, and a corresponding demand for experienced railway officials. The East, in the first instance, attracted the subject of our sketch; perhaps it was natural that his eye should be first turned to the rising, before it was directed towards the setting sun. The Madras Railway Company was established, and Mr. Brydges determined to apply for the office of General Manager. He communicated such intention to the Directors of the Company in whose service he was, and thereupon learned, on the individual and concurrent testimony of those gentlemen and of the chief officers of the Company, what indeed he had no previous cause to doubt, their unqualified appreciation of his merits, their high regard for his character, and their unfeigned regret at the prospect of his loss; for he was considered to be an officer of no ordinary merit, and a friend of no ordinary value.

The post in India eluded him; it was given to another. A month afterwards his connection with the London and South-Western Railway Company ceased on his appointment to the office of Managing Director of the Great Western Railway Company of Canada. It was natural that one possessing the tact, temper, and taste for work, combined with the equability and gentleness of disposition, the wisdom and generosity of character, which appear to be inseparable from the subject of our sketch, should have won good opinions alike from his official superiors, and from his official associates. The former put their sentiments on record on the minutes of the Company in the following words:

YORK ROAD STATION. 19th Nov., 1852.

Mr. Brydges,—

The Directors desire to express to Mr. Brydges on his quitting the service of the London and South-Western Railway Company, their warm approbation of his long, faithful, and able services, their regret at his quitting the Company, their hope that he may be equally successful in rendering efficient services to the Company by whom he is engaged, together with their belief that he will be equally fortunate in securing the esteem and good will of all with whom he is connected.”

Wishing moreover to supplement their expression of official regret with a perpetual memento of their heartfelt regard, they adopted the resolution of which the following is a copy, and presented it to Mr. Brydges, accompanied with a tea service of silver.

“Mr. A. Beattie moved, and Mr. F. Godson, seconded: “That this Meeting deeply regrets the loss to the London and South-Western Railway Company and themselves, of Mr. Brydges’ valuable services; and in order that his associates and friends may have an opportunity of evincing the sense they entertain of the talent which he has displayed, and the admirable manner in which he has performed the onerous duties devolving upon him during the long period he has been in the service of the London and South-Western Railway Company, and also to mark their appreciation of his private as well as official worth, propose to present him with such a testimonial of their friendship and esteem, as will be valuable to him in the responsible position he is about to occupy in another country, and be a perpetual memento of the heartfelt regard with which they bid him adieu.”

While Mr. Brydges was looking abroad for higher and more responsible employment, the Directors of the London and South-Western Railway Board appear to have been considering in what way they could give him promotion at home. Between the time of his application for service in India, and the announcement of his engagement in Canada, the Secretary of the London and South-Western Railway had resigned. The Directors of that Company at once determined to offer the vacant post to Mr. Brydges; and so desirous were they to retain his services, that on learning he had actually engaged himself in Canada, they sent a deputation of two of their Board to the Representatives in England of the Great Western Railway Company of Canada, to request that Mr. Brydges might be released from that engagement.

The sagacious representatives of the latter company saw in the anxiety of their English rivals to recover the services of their lost officer nothing but a compliment to their own discernment in securing those services. Therefore those gentlemen, we have no doubt with the becoming smiles which those who win generally wear, very courteously bowed the deputation through the proper loopholes of retreat, if not with words of polished regret, at least with a pantomime radiant with gratification. Certainly it was very complimentary to the subject of the conference, and something to be proud of, that the representatives of two great Railway Companies should have met for official negociation on the question of acquiring or retaining the services of a gentleman as their chief officer who was not twenty-six years of age.

The management of large interests appears to foster large thoughts. Without neglecting themselves, the chief attention of persons occupied with such interests appears to be to consider in what way they can most effectually benefit other people. The object may be to advance the attractions of a locality, to augment the power of a Company, or to increase the dividends of shareholders; or it may be to attract an efficient staff, or to retain enthusiastic workmen, or to secure contemporary fame. Such aims to be thoroughly accomplished, must be associated with largeness of mind, a kind heart, and an open hand. Two personal qualities at least should be possessed by him who would successfully rule large bodies of men. He must be scrupulously just and habitually generous in his transactions. Large interests and small minds are ever at issue. With one littleness is incompatible, to the other greatness is mystery. Both have their uses, however, and each in its place may serve the state. The small mind may occupy itself with sifting fractions and sorting details. The large one with analyzing principles and apportioning issues. The danger is when by any accident the order of safety is reversed, and the small mind is burdened with the great duties. It is probable that the subject of our sketch, when a very young man, saw clearly that education, social influence, cultivated taste, self respect, temperance, and prudence were among the qualifications to be arrived at and the habits to be observed by those who would succeed in life. Being in a position to exert a certain amount of personal influence, he took advantage of it to work for the benefit of those who were employed in Railway Companies. Thus he was, we believe, mainly instrumental in establishing a “Friendly Society” for the benefit of the workmen of the London and South-Western Railway Company, which still continues to be a popular as well as a flourishing institution. For the like reason, in 1850, he took an active part, by newspaper contributions as well as by a pamphlet under his own signature, to promote the formation of a Superannuation Fund for railway clerks and other persons who were connected with railways. The subject is not without interest in Canada, and especially to those who, being in the position, are desirous to promote the efficiency as well as the economy of the public service. Mr. Brydges’ plan appears to have been to establish a “Superannuation Society” for the benefit of all who were paid by annual salaries; and “Benefit Societies” with the like object for all who received weekly wages. The contributions to the fund to be borne in equal proportions by the Railway Companies and by the Railway officials.

Not only did Mr. Brydges occupy his thoughts with projects for the future welfare of the class employed by Railway Companies; he contrived plans for their instruction and amusement. He was, we are informed, one of the promoters of a literary and scientific institution which was established in connection with the London and South-Western Railway Company. The attractions of this institute were appreciated. The men had a place of ready and agreeable resort, where there was an excellent library, where classes were formed for special branches of education, where mechanical and other drawings were kept, and where lectures were given once a week. In the course of time the promoters of the institute succeeded in connecting with and attaching to it an excellent school for the education of the children of the members. The school became very popular, and the results which attended its operations were highly beneficial.

In separating himself from the London and South-Western Railway Company, Mr. Brydges would of course have also to separate himself from the literary and scientific society, which was a kind of social offshoot of the Company. The members of that society and the subject of our sketch were endeared to one another by the magical interchange of sympathy and kindness. The former therefore determined that the latter should not leave them without carrying with him some abiding mark of their friendship and regard. The vellum on which the following resolution is engrossed is inscribed with the names of ninety-five contributors. The document is interesting on account of the apparent equality which pervades it. All contributed, each according to his ability, but no distinguishing sums blemish the roll by being affixed to the names of the donors.

London and South-Western Literary and Scientific Institution.

Nine Elms,—November 26th, 1852.

We, the underwritten members of this Institution, wishing to testify to Charles John Brydges our appreciation of his conduct, whilst filling the important office of Honorary Secretary to this Institution, present to him, with every mark of esteem, a silver inkstand, on the occasion of his retirement from that office.

Gifts and testimonials accumulate in the paths of some people. The subject of our sketch may perhaps be referred to as one to whom the observation may very pertinently apply; and yet it may be questioned whether among the various mementos of regard which have from time to time sweetened toil, and added zest to exertion, any have touched him more sensibly than the simple parting gift which grew out of the institute, which he, with others, had striven to establish, and the school which he, with others, had succeeded in connecting with it.

In January, 1853, Mr. Brydges arrived in Canada, and entered on his duties as Managing Director of the Great Western Railway Company. The line was not then completed, nor was it opened for traffic till January of the following year, and that time was far too soon. Rolling stock and other appliances had not been, and could not be procured with sufficient rapidity, while an experienced staff was altogether unattainable. To make matters worse, those drawbacks to the working of the road were aggravated by the large traffic with which it was immediately required to be burdened. Such inconveniences, however, were but temporary. The line soon took its natural position as a great avenue of trade, and acquired the commercial influence which it still enjoys. So great was the early success of the Company that in the year 1856 the shareholders received a dividend of eight per cent.

Our space will not permit any special reference to the subsequent history of the Railway, nor need we discuss the question whether it was, or was not, for the interests of the Company to extend their line. Privileged Companies, like privileged individuals, have their duties as well as their rights; and it may be incumbent on both that they should occasionally undertake responsibilities which in themselves are not immediately, and never can be otherwise than indirectly, remunerative, but which nevertheless may be politically sagacious or morally commendable. Great Companies moreover have negative as well as positive interests; evils to avert as well as advantages to secure; and a due regard to the double duty may occasionally include an unremunerative expenditure of profits. Young countries, like young persons, rarely possess the patience to wait for success. They are apt to account investments which yield no immediate advantage in the light of money hopelessly lost. With them an immediate tangible return is the sole condition of a wise investment; and the absence of such return is construed to be a reproach to the sagacity of the investor. The year 1857 was the first year of the financial crisis, and it was followed by many years of bad harvests. At that critical time the Great Western Railway Company carried out, as a measure of prudence, the plans which had engaged the thoughts of some of its earliest friends. Some sort of alliance was entered into with the Detroit and Milwaukee Railway Company, that Company stipulating as a condition of the agreement that the Great Western Railway Company should lend it £250,000. It is no part of our purpose to discuss the merits of that measure. We only refer to it because it is prominently mixed up with the history of Mr. Brydges’ management, for the transaction is one which he regards with complacency and to which he always refers with sentiments of unalloyed satisfaction.

Great excitement was occasioned at about the same time by an effort which was made in Canada to establish what was called the Southern Railway, and this project was the more noteworthy from the fact of its being encouraged and supported by a considerable section of the Great Western Railway Board. It was however, for reasons considered by him to be sufficient, warmly opposed by the subject of our sketch. Into the merits of the discussion it is not necessary to enter. Suffice it to say that it became so sharp between the Managing Director and the Local Directors, as to make a reference to the shareholders in England necessary. The report of the proceedings of the 14th October, 1856, at a General Meeting held to consider that reference, is alike amusing and instructive. The English shareholders were unanimous in their condemnation of the majority of the Canadian Board, and in their expressions of admiration and thanks to the subject of our sketch, who, we may add, represented in his own person the minority on that memorable issue. The resolution, which was moved by Mr. Hoyes, and seconded by Mr. Charles Carpenter, is as follows:

“That the best thanks of this meeting are due to Mr. Brydges, the Managing Director in Canada, for the zeal, integrity and judgment which he has uniformly displayed in conducting the business of the Company.”

The speeches on the occasion, in so far as they referred to Mr. Brydges, were one unbroken panegyric: his character, his judgment, and his courage, were subjects especially noted for commendation. All expressed approval of what he had done, and still more strongly did they express approval of his refusal to do what he had not done. The Directors in Canada, who had thus been censured by the shareholders in London, took the earliest opportunity of retiring from the Board, leaving the subject of our sketch for the time being the sole Director. Votes of thanks and expressions of confidence on the part of the English shareholders to Mr. Brydges were of frequent occurrence. We believe indeed that he never appeared at the meetings, or addressed the shareholders in London without receiving such marks of approval.

The depression which had commenced in 1857, became aggravated in 1860. With reduced or suspended dividends, there followed depreciated and unmarketable securities. Shareholders experienced loss of income, and were menaced with loss of capital. Distrust everywhere prevailed, and men whose minds had been irritated by losses, or whose properties had been impoverished by mistakes, were exactly in the condition to listen to promptings, no matter whence they came, which hinted that their interests were ill cared for and worse managed, which suggested suspicion and counselled scrutiny. Thus it was that the management of the Great Western Railway Company had to pass through an ordeal of attack, which led, at the request of the persons assailed, to a searching enquiry by a Committee chosen, if we may use such a phrase, in the interests of the assailants. After eleven months of elaborate labor, the report, which was exceedingly voluminous, was published and circulated. The answer of the Board of Management was in like manner printed and distributed. The case, and the answer were in due time submitted to the shareholders for judgment. From what actually transpired, we incline to think that the opinion of the irregular tribunal on the comparative value of the two documents must have been somewhat scornfully as well as very emphatically expressed. The Report was rejected and the Committee discharged, while the Board of Management, including the subject of our sketch, received a renewed expression of confidence, and were, by an almost unanimous vote, triumphantly re-elected.

Experience acquired in passing through what Mr. Brydges, in a very forcible speech, compared to “waves of calumny,” enabled him to discover that his friends, though less active, were more numerous than his enemies. Though all men had not spoken well of him, yet the majority had, as it turned out, thought well of him. The latter class, having waited for the judgment of the Court, felt themselves called upon to give expression to their own judgment. The time for doing so had in their opinion arrived, when, after a somewhat lengthened absence, Mr. Brydges re-embarked for Canada. The Mayor and citizens of Hamilton, together with many friends and admirers from distant places in the Provinces and the United States, availed themselves of the opportunity to give Mr. Brydges an enthusiastic welcome home. The reception—we quote from the Toronto Globe of the 2nd May, 1861—took the form of a banquet of exaggerated proportions. It was given in the Exhibition Building, Hamilton, and it was, as we conjecture, accompanied with more than the usual allowance of exhilarating accompaniments, for we read, though we do not understand the new feature of the chorus, that on Mr. Brydges’ health being drunk, “the whole Company rose, and gave cheers, three times three, with an enthusiastic “tiger” at the end, performed by the “Railway boys” present.” Speeches of compliment, speeches of kindness, and speeches eloquent with feeling, were spoken. And lest the festival should cloy from the overflow of sweets or the lack of contrasts, there were pungent speeches, stinging speeches, and speeches of refreshing bitterness, which we can calmly enjoy since we are not required to express an opinion on their merits. But though different in form and diversified in flavor, their aims were identical, to crown their guest with unqualified praise, and to confound his defamers with indiscriminate censure.

A festival commemorative of a triumph would have been incomplete, had it not included some tangible memento of personal regard. The esteem and affection cherished towards their Chief by the officers and servants, including the “Railway boys” and the “tiger,” in the employ of the Great Western Railway Company, had prompted them to appropriate to themselves this expressive feature of the welcome.

We again quote the Globe newspaper:

“The most interesting portion of the evening’s proceedings then took place. Upon a Pyramid covered with crimson cloth, was placed for presentation to Mr. Brydges, the most handsome and costly service of plate ever given to any gentleman in Canada before. The service consisted of seventeen pieces; each one a marvel of artistic excellence. An ice bowl, which surmounted the whole, was supported by miniature blocks of ice and by three polar bears of solid silver. Four elegant fruit dishes had for pedestals silver cupids, most beautiful specimens of workmanship. The remainder of the articles were two silver drinking cups, two silver salvers, one of them beautifully chased, a cake basket and knife, a silver kettle and stand, a toddy ladle and ice spoon. The following inscription was engraved on several of the articles:—“Presented to Charles John Brydges, Esquire, Managing Director, by the employés of the Great Western Railway of Canada, as a token of their respect and esteem. Hamilton, May 17th, 1861.” The service was supplied by Messrs. Tiffany, of New York, and cost no less a sum than $3,000.”

And, as if to show that the feelings which moved fifteen hundred employé’s of the Company to unite in making such a representation were pure and disinterested, we learn that, on the same occasion, other persons, who had once served under Mr. Brydges, but who were then employed elsewhere, had obtained permission to add a mark of their own to the feast of tributes, by presenting Mr. Brydges with “a splendid gold watch and chain,” purchased for him by some of the “old employés of the Great Western Railway.” Space will not permit the insertion of the addresses on that interesting occasion. They probably meant more than they said. They were intended to defend the right and to challenge the wrong. To Mr. Brydges they were a congratulation as well as a solace. To those who had sought his injury, they were a rebuke as well as a caution. The memory of that May day, and of the transactions which beautified the day, is not likely to be forgotten. Indeed, Mr. Brydges possesses “material guarantees” of great worth and beauty, not only to remind him of “friends in council,” but also to suggest that he must either be wisdom’s child, or fortune’s favorite to possess such friends.

As we have already said, Mr. Brydges is a representative man, educated and brought up in a railway age for railway use. Not only has he studied minutely the management of such roads in their relation to the interests of a Company, but he has studied generally the economy of such roads in their relation to the interests of the public. If the aphorism of a writer in the Westminster Review be correct, that “the public loses accommodation by competition,” then as Railways are or should be carrying companies only, it is the interest of the public to discourage competition, and make plans for accommodation. The policy of amalgamation, which has obtained favor in England and the United States, has been thoroughly studied and made familiar to the mind of Mr. Brydges. He was, therefore, in the autumn of 1861, quite prepared to discuss with Mr. Watkin the expediency of applying such policy to Canada. Thus, informal negociations were entered upon by those gentlemen representing respectively the Grand Trunk and Great Western Railway Companies, for the fusion of the two lines; and with such adroitness and success were they conducted that a preliminary understanding was, we believe, come to between the English Directors of the two Companies. During the currency of those negociations, the situation of Managing Director of the Grand Trunk Railway Company became vacant by the resignation of the late Mr. Blackwell, and as the proposed re-union of the two lines contemplated the appointment of only one officer of that rank, the situation was offered to, and was accepted by the subject of our sketch. He continued to manage both lines until September, 1862; but the celebrated fusion bill having, in the previous month of May, been withdrawn from the consideration of Parliament, Mr. Brydges resigned his seat as a Director of the Great Western Railway Company.

The following minute will explain the terms on which the separation took place:



Extract from Minutes of the Board of Directors on the 1st September, 1862.


Mr. C. J. Brydges.


Letter from C. J. Brydges, dated this day, resigning his position as a Director of the Great Western Railway Company, which was accepted.

It was moved by Mr. Juson, seconded by Mr. Gates, and

Resolved,—That Mr. C. J. Brydges having resigned his seat at this Board, and retired from the position of Managing Director of the Great Western Railway Company, the Directors present desire to express their regret at the severance of his connection with the Company, and to convey to him an assurance of the high opinion they entertain of the earnest and increasing attention he has, for the period of nearly ten years, devoted to the interests of the Company; they also desire to express their admiration of his talents as an administrative officer, of the great ability and judgment he has exercised in establishing and maintaining the most friendly and advantageous alliances with the connecting lines in the United States; and generally, in having most efficiently and satisfactorily filled, for so long a period, the important office of Managing Director of this Company.



It is not our intention to discuss the particular project which Mr. Watkin and Mr. Brydges, representing two great Companies, sought to carry out. Time and the course of events will probably quiet political anxiety, and silence local distrust. The taste, however, for amalgamation is abroad, and the policy of amalgamation is gaining general favor, for the commercial and economical advantages of such a policy are daily becoming apparent. It has steadily disseminated itself in England and the United States. Canada in the nature of things cannot hope to escape, even had she the desire to do so, from the effects of such examples and such contacts.

Mr. Brydges is apparently endowed with noteworthy powers of moral and physical endurance; he is a tough untiring kind of Englishman, a compound of vigor and industry, of patience and perseverance. With great knowledge of the world and a genial appreciation of the enjoyments as well as the duties of life, he has thus far with persistent tenacity and unabating endeavor won his path upward. But to fortitude and constancy there are added the habits as well as the attributes of wisdom; energy and reserve. There is a time to halt as well as to advance, to be still as well as to be active, to be considerate as well as to be firm. Few understand better than Mr. Brydges the value of such considerations, for few more adroitly than he practices their maxims. Thus it is on the principles of good generalship that he not unfrequently deems it to be desirable rather to avoid a battle than to miss a victory. In a deliberative assembly, it is commonly wiser to postpone than to provoke a doubtful issue, to withdraw a Bill for example, rather than by forcing a vote, to fix men in positions of absolute hostility, when by consideration and generosity, prejudice would be removed and the position changed. The exercise of patience accompanied by a display of indifference, leads not only to a change of opinion but not unfrequently to a change of vote. Men are constitutionally disinclined in matters of opinion to submit to pressure; thus a good cause is often imperilled by rash advocates. Public men, especially, dislike to reverse their votes. Mr. Brydges is aware of this fact, and he is careful so to manage his Parliamentary strategy as to preserve members from falling into uncomfortable attitudes, which may be, and commonly are, followed by humiliating and sometimes by ludicrous consequences. Thus, under the direction of Mr. Brydges, Members have been saved from the consequences of their own votes; for the voice of Parliament has been cleverly hushed at a moment when it might, being less skillfully guided, have become angry, and in its passion have expressed embarrassing as well as emphatic negatives.

The principle of railway fusion, though strongly opposed in Parliament, appears nevertheless to grow in public opinion. Commercial advantage will overrule political prejudice; for the tide in railway affairs all tends in one direction. The St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railway was, several years ago, amalgamated with the Grand Trunk Railway. In August, 1864, at a dinner given at Brantford, Mr. Brydges amongst other things said: “Sir, the particular occasion which has called us here to-night, on which occasion you have done me so much honor, is the connection which has been formed between the Grand Trunk and the Buffalo and Lake Huron Railway Company.” In the same month of the following year, at the Town of Galt, and afterwards at the City of Hamilton, public dinners were given to the subject of our sketch to celebrate the nuptials of the Preston and Berlin Railway with the Grand Trunk Line. And later still in the same year similar festivities took place at Ottawa and Three Rivers, the first in honor of Mr. Brydges, and the second to celebrate the opening of the Three Rivers and Arthabaska Railway: at both, however, oblique allusions were made, which, if they meant anything, expressed the desire to amalgamate with, or work in harmony with the Grand Trunk Line. Thus has Mr. Brydges taken advantage of a series of banquets held in his honor as the Managing Director of the Grand Trunk Railway, to discourse generally on the advantages of Railways to the Province, and particularly on the policy of substituting co-operating for competing lines; of bringing into one system, parts, which being united would add to the public accommodation as well as to the general value of Railway property, but which, being separated and antagonistic, are, comparatively speaking, sources of injury to their own, as well as to the public interest.

Mr. Brydges, with statesmanlike judgment, appears to think that there should extend from the extreme Westerly limits of the Province to the Atlantic seaboard in Nova Scotia, one Grand Vertebral Line of Railway, of sufficient strength to admit of any number of points and segments being attached to and incorporated with it. Such joints and segments become “feeders,” and therefore sources not only of strength to the road, but of accommodation to the public; albeit such “feeders” may of course become “suckers” of the Company. The latter result is a question which the Company and not the public, is required to consider, for since nothing can be done without the previous consent, so nothing is done without the previous consideration of the Company. Let us take advantage of Mr. Brydges’ speeches on these subjects, and study what he has to say in his own words. But before doing so, it may not be out of place to hear the Honorable Mr. Ferrier’s opinion not only of the project itself, but also of the subject of our sketch, who appears to be charged with the duty of carrying it out. Mr. Ferrier, we may remark, is a gentleman who never makes a long, and cannot make an ambiguous speech. He thinks from a point, and speaks to a point, and he is therefore always direct and straightforward in what he says. At the Brantford dinner, already referred to, Mr. Ferrier is reported to have said: “That he entered heartily into the plan of uniting the different railway systems of the Province into one.” Speaking of Mr. Brydges, he added “Before his advent as Manager, the Grand Trunk Railway had not only been productive of no gain, but had entailed on its supporters and the Province a constant loss. But when he had undertaken its management, all that sort of thing was forthwith changed. They had never had, and never could have any man with a greater amount of Railway talent than the present Managing Director.” Fortunately for Mr. Brydges, Mr. Ferrier’s observations were made after, and not before the speech of the former, from which we are about to quote. Such a compliment might have embarrassed a much more hardened public speaker than the subject of our sketch. Mr. Brydges said:

“In the first place I may tell you, and I am quite sure you will find it founded on facts, that the question of Railway amalgamation is by no means a new one. We have only to look to the neighboring state of New-York, on the other side of the Niagara River, and we find that the greatest Railway in the United States, the largest and most important and most prosperous, the N. Y. Central—a railway with which we have now large business relations—we find, I say, that the New York Central Railway is comprised of the amalgamation of some six or seven independent Companies on the very ground that the parties themselves believed, and that the Legislature who gave them the charter, also believed, that the making of that amalgamation was ensuring the interests, not only of the parties applying for the charter, but the interests of the public themselves. I should like to ask any gentleman who is in the habit of travelling between New-York and Buffalo, how he should like to get into a railway car at New York, be turned out at Albany, be turned out at Schenectady, again at Utica, again at Syracuse, and again at Rochester, instead of, as now, going from New York to Buffalo without moving from his seat. The effect of amalgamation of Railways is this, that it reduces fixed charges, and by increasing the business of the road, and reducing the cost at which the Companies are enabled to do the work, enables them to do that work for the public at a less cost. This is the whole fact about amalgamation. There is nothing else in it whatever.”

Mr. Brydges knows much of the management, but he also knows much of the history of Railways, and he is well acquainted, with the difficulties which beset their progress. It is probable, could he consent so to humble himself, he might, in connection with such histories unroll a record of moral meanness and wrong doing, at which even human frailty in its most abject form would stare aghast. He is however constitutionally unwilling to blemish a grand design by uncovering the blots with which its history is sprinkled. He would rather invoke the acids of oblivion to remove, than the aids of memory to recover, any stain of foulness that may have disfigured the progress of a work so fair. Thus in all his speeches Mr. Brydges displays a high bred reticence; no word of reflection, no syllable of reproach falls from his lips. He has thought for the future, but not for the past. He has work for the present, work for the future, and under the weight of the double obligation he thus speaks to the inhabitants of Stratford:

“I feel, Sir, that it is not owing to any merits of my own that you have paid me this compliment to night, but it is owing to the fact that I am the representative in this country of one of its greatest institutions—an institution which has conferred great benefits upon Canada in the past, and which, in my humble opinion, will be one of the greatest props in the future of its prosperity. There have been times, Sir, and it is not many years ago, when it would not have been possible for anybody in any part of Canada to have stood up and returned thanks for such a toast as the one which you, Mr. Chairman, have just proposed. I think, however, the times of difficulty through which the Grand Trunk has passed have shown at any rate that it is an institution which is capable of conferring great benefits upon the country, and that we shall find in future years the people of Canada will be proud of that institution, and proud of the fact that it is one of the greatest enterprizes of the age. We all know what the position of Canada was before these great arterial lines of Railway came into existence; we all know what her position is to day; we know that her population, her revenue, in short, everything calculated to make a nation great, have very largely increased during the period of time which Railway enterprizes have had their existence in Canada; and if we look forward to a period of ten, twenty, or thirty years,—periods which many gentlemen around these tables may live to see,—we may cast an eye into the future, and even may then find Canada occupying a position which will make her one of the greatest nations upon this Northern Continent of America. I believe, Sir—and I think I am not wrong in that opinion—that Canada is just about entering upon the threshold of her prosperity, and that her future prosperity will far exceed anything that has taken place in the past; and, Sir, I for one, eschewing everything approaching to politics, everything that has reference to that question—cannot (as one who deeply loves Canada and her future prosperity) shut my eyes to the pregnant fact that there are at this moment discussions going on which, I trust from my heart, may make Canada a great and prosperous nation, and which may extend her commercial, her political, and every other interest to the shores of the Atlantic on one side, and—I hope the day may not be far distant to the shores of the Pacific on the other.”

Had we space it might be worth while to enquire whether there may not be reasons outside of as well as within the Province, why the whole Railway system of Canada should not be knitted together and especially adapted to national uses. It is probable that the subject of our sketch may have anticipated (though he loses no opportunity of explaining that he is no politician) what is now taking place. He may have foreseen that the trading relations of this Province and the United States of America would shortly pass through very serious changes, and that such changes would be most felt where intercourse had been most frequent, namely, in Western Canada. If in its own interest, or for the furtherance of its policy, the Government of the United States sees fit to shut up the avenues of Canadian Trade, then it becomes alike the interest and the duty of Canada to open new avenues of her own through which her commerce may freely pass irrespective of foreign patronage, or foreign permission, to other parts of the world. Art must provide for the deficiencies of nature. A winter as well as a summer highway through British Territory to the Atlantic is to Canada an absolute necessity of her condition which most persons recognize, and which is acutely obvious to the subject of our sketch. None better than Mr. Brydges knows that simplicity of plan combined with celerity of movement are the conditions which the shipper, in the interest of the producer, requires of the forwarder. Trade would, in obedience to his policy of amalgamation, flow without interruption through every artery of the Canadian railway system, and it would consequently pass without transhipment, or multiplied agencies, from the place of embarkation to the port of delivery. Thus, while the frontier of a neighboring nation is being fenced and made impassable by hostile Tariffs, the products of the Canadian soil would be borne on Canadian highways, or on Canadian streamways, to lands which are prepared to welcome them on terms of reciprocal advantage. These, among other reasons, may have moved the subject of our sketch to attempt to bring about a united instead of a divided Canadian railway service, a concentrated and direct, instead of a disjointed and conflicting, system of transportation.

It was during the winter of its discontent that Mr. Brydges accepted the post of Managing Director of the Grand Trunk Railway. With the loss of the celebrated fusion Bill in 1862, the prime purpose for which he assumed the responsibility seemed to elude him. He was left to manage the trust which his predecessors in office, one after another had taken up, and for various reasons had laid aside. Many causes have contributed to his greater success, but in the catalogue of those causes perhaps the most important place must be assigned to his wise and judicious application of acquired knowledge. The abundant harvest of this year does not of itself account for the difference between the net profits, for example, of 1860 which were $280,000, and the net profits of this season which are estimated at $1,600,000. Between the former year, when the moveable property of the road was seized and the Company threatened with utterly destructive litigation, and the latter period, when it is free alike from debt and law suits. Between the former period, when the rolling stock was in a dilapidated condition, and from the want even of means to repair it, rapidly deteriorating; and the latter period when the whole has been improved, when stations are increased, and new rolling stock added to the old. Nor should it be forgotten that during this period £500,000 sterling of the earnings have been expended on improving the permanent way. Such is the apparent difference between now and then. Could we lift the veil, and see that Empire of the North, the “British America,” the grand Monarchical Confederation of the future, for which Provincial Statesmen hope, and for which Imperial Statesmen plan, we should perhaps also see the Grand Trunk Railway, in length inconceivable, gathering tribute at every terminal point, developing the trade and policy of the country, bearing to the ocean the products of the fields, forests, and mines of Canada, and bringing from the ocean the wealth of the sea, the wealth of the looms, and the wealth of the forges of other lands, as well as the fuel crops of the neighboring Provinces. The time will come—who shall gainsay it?—when opposing opinions will be hushed, when all public men will practically agree with the Honorable Mr. Cartier, and others who like him, irrespective of consequences and regardless of censure, through evil report and through good report, have persistently upheld the Grand Trunk Railway as a work of incalculable advantage to the Province; who from first to last, at all times and under all circumstances, have asserted and re-asserted what the subject of our sketch spares no pains to reiterate, and misses no opportunity to enforce, that the Grand Trunk Railway is not only “one of the greatest enterprizes of the age,” but a work which reflects the greatest honor on the Parliament, and is calculated to be of the greatest benefit to the people of Canada.


In May, 1497, Sebastian Cabot sailed from Bristol, ostensibly for the purpose of discovering a North-West passage to the “Land of Spice.” Henry the Seventh, with prescient sagacity, gave his countenance to the adventure, making however, as was his practice, a thrifty reservation on his own account of one-fifth of the profits. On the 24th June, Cabot reached the coast of Labrador, and thus he was the first to discover the American continent, for Columbus did not enter the Orinoco on his third voyage, till August of the following year. These two illustrious men are usually styled the discoverers of America—the first of the Northern, the second of the Southern continent. It is, however, supposed, and not without reason, that the new world was known to the inhabitants of the old world at a period much earlier than the time of Cabot. Greenland is said to have been visited at the end of the tenth century by Eric “the Red,” a Norwegian Viking; and that early in the eleventh century a Bishop’s see was established there. Some pious men have, moreover, conjectured, for the evidence is at best of a very shadowy kind, that in the year 1121 a Bishop of Greenland visited “Vinland” or “Winland,” as Newfoundland was, it is thought by some persons, first called, for the purpose of re-converting his countrymen, and the descendants of his countrymen, to the Christian faith, from which they had departed. Admitting the discovery of Greenland to have taken place at the period assigned to that discovery, it is not extravagant to suppose that the courageous sea kings of northern Europe, who had successfully passed from their own country to Iceland, and thence to Greenland, should, undismayed by the dangers of the deep, have pushed their course westward till they found themselves on the exposed coast of Labrador, or within the shelter of one of the many harbors which girdle the Island of Newfoundland; but whether they actually did so, is a question we have no means of determining. The legends and traditions of the shadowy past fall incoherently on the ear. Unintelligible as the prattle of infancy, yet, like that prattle, they are pleasantly listened to, though little understood; agreeable to the imagination, though unsatisfactory to the mind. We lack history, we lack monuments, we lack collateral testimony, we lack the essential attributes of evidence; and yet the theory possesses a foundation in reason, and being reasonable, it may possess a foundation in truth. Still, it must be confessed, that legend and tradition belong to an unreliable and somewhat fanciful tribe, whose members though weak, illusive, and little worthy of trust, occasionally wear a whimsical garb of pre-historic interest, and are indeed such delightful impostors, that we do not like to dismiss them roughly from the gates of knowledge. The right reverend subject of our sketch, in addition to the higher and more sacred researches which pertain to his calling, appears to possess a taste for ethnological and archæological studies, especially in the relation of the latter to christian antiquity. The subjects to which we have referred seem to possess more than common attraction to him, and they have consequently, with many other kindred matters of past and present interest relating to Newfoundland, engaged much of his speculative, as well as of his serious thought.

Passing from what may be regarded as a mythical and uncertain period to the clearer light of modern times, we learn that the history of Newfoundland is full of curious and contradictory phases. It was the first discovered, and it is probably the least known of all the British American Colonies. Though a large island, it is not, comparatively speaking, a large province; and yet we read that its interior is not only unsurveyed, but unexplored. The hoped-for land, the Buona Vista, “the happy sight” of Cabot, appears to have been but slightly esteemed for its own sake by his successors. It was accounted valuable only because it was contiguous to the great fish pastures of the Banks of Newfoundland, just as Tyre may have been valuable, as a place where fishermen might spread their nets, and preserve their fish. Capes and Bays were visited by English and French navigators, and were named by English and French officers. Sir Humphrey Gilbert for example, in the reign of Elizabeth, landed at St. Johns; and out of respect to the royal lady whose subject he was, and from some aversion to the Sovereign Pontiff whose admirer he was not, he not only put up the royal arms, but he accompanied them with a kind of reflected act of supremacy, by ordering that divine worship should thenceforward be celebrated only according to the forms and directions of the Book of Common Prayer. Sir George Calvert, subsequently Lord Baltimore, in a succeeding reign, took a view of duty the reverse of that which had been taken by Sir Humphrey Gilbert; and had the settlement presented greater attractions than it did, it is probable that some affront would have been offered to the edict of Sir Humphrey. As it was, Lord Baltimore withdrew from Newfoundland, and became the founder of the State which is still called by his name. The Province itself was little prized. English and French appear to have used, without occupying it, though the latter, with military intuition, first saw the necessity of erecting a fortification at Placentia. The chronic hostility of the two races was as conspicuous in Newfoundland as in Europe; and the small fishing colonies seem to have kept their enmities in a lively state of excitement by little skirmishes, little sea fights, and little sieges, until the strife was quieted by the Treaty of Utrecht, when the French resigned all claim to Newfoundland, reserving only the small Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, with the right of fishing within certain limits. Though England acquired the island, she had no intention of colonizing it. For trading purposes she wanted the fish; as a nursery for seamen she wanted the fishery; and for matters connected with her defence and naval supremacy, she wished so to arrange matters that her seafaring subjects should be within call when they were needed. Therefore, though the occupation of her sailors was “on the ocean wave,” England desired that their homes should be in the British Islands.

In illustration of this view, we may mention that in 1798 the Governor severely reprimanded the Sheriff for having, during his absence in the preceding winter, allowed a Mrs. Gibb to put up a fence. Thomas Neven, who had erected a few sheds, not being of the gentler sex, was less tenderly treated, for the Sheriff was ordered to remove his sheds. That officer was furthermore directed “to take good care that Jeremiah Marroty and John Fitzgerald do not erect chimneys to their sheds;” and as those gentlemen, we may conjecture, belonged to an inventive as well as a long suffering race, the Governor determined to put an extinguisher on their ingenuity, by further ordering they were not “even to light fires in them of any kind.” Six years afterwards, during the government of Sir G. Gower, we read that the stringency of those orders was somewhat relaxed, for permission was given to occupy ground at St. Johns for building purposes; but it was not until 1811 that an Act of the Imperial Parliament was passed authorizing certain portions of land therein named to “be granted, let and possessed as private property.” With these special exceptions, it would appear that the old orders with respect to the prohibition of settlement still continued in force. Lands were to remain open and unfenced, “so that all persons, without distinction, might cut wood for the use of the fishery.” Persons, however, of a sanguine turn of mind, moved by the necessities of their own condition, and not having the fear of the Governor before their eyes, very coolly appropriated what they could not legally acquire, and thus the land along the coast was persistently filched by squatters, whom it was inconvenient to resist, and difficult to eject. In consequence of representations made from time to time on the distressed state of the population of Newfoundland, the Governor, in the year 1817, received instructions to ascertain in what parts of the Island cultivation was most likely to be attended with success, and then to make grants to individuals of so much land only, and no more, as they would engage to cultivate. Every effort had been made by the authorities to aggravate the natural drawbacks of the Island, and make it as distasteful as possible as a place of settlement. The spirit of patriotism, the love of country, the charm of home, were not to be associated in the minds of men with the shores of Newfoundland. This truth is forcibly pointed out by the right reverend subject of our sketch in a lecture delivered at Bonaventure College, St. Johns. He says:—

“Let no one blame Newfoundland for not having hitherto advanced as rapidly as other colonies. I boldly assert that never was more energy shown by any people than by the inhabitants of this Island. The government that should foster them considered them as intruders, and banished them when it could. They were exposed to all the petty tyranny of ignorant fishing admirals, and of Governors who proved their devotion to England by depopulating Newfoundland. They had not the liberty of the birds of the air to build or repair their nests. They had behind them the forest or the rocky soil, which they were not allowed, without licenses difficult to be obtained, to reclaim and till. Their only resource was the stormy ocean, and they saw the wealth they won from the deep spent in other lands, leaving them only a scanty subsistence. Despite of all this they have increased twenty fold in ninety-nine years, have built towns and villages, erected magnificent buildings, as the cathedral of St. Johns, introduced telegraphs, steam, postal, and road communications, newspapers—everything, in fact, found in the most civilized countries; and all this on a rugged soil, in a harsh, though wholesome climate, and under every species of discouragement.”

If, however, the political and social condition of the people was such as is here described, their moral and religious state was still more deplorable. Being, as the Honorable Mr. McGee has somewhere amusingly observed, “the next parish to Ireland,” it was no matter for surprise that Newfoundland should contain a large Irish population. In 1763 the number of inhabitants was 4,798 Roman Catholics, and 8,317 Protestants. In 1784 a proclamation was published whereby liberty of conscience, and the free exercise of religious worship were allowed to all persons in Newfoundland. This new state of things gave rise to perplexing political considerations, and brought about results which were neither desired nor thought of. The Roman Catholic population, which, in the absence of a resident priesthood, had been migratory, became settled; and consequently one part of English policy was menaced with failure, for the sailors of that faith, and their families, having had secured to them the spiritual ministrations they needed, were content to make Newfoundland their home. Governor Milbank, observing the tendency of toleration, addressed the following curious, and at the same time honest, note to the Reverend Dr. O’Donnell, who was then the senior priest, and was afterwards consecrated the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Newfoundland:—

“The Governor acquaints Mr. O’Donnell that, so far from being disposed to allow of an increase of places of religious worship for the Roman Catholics of the island, he very seriously intends next year to lay those established already under particular restrictions. Mr. O’Donnell must be aware that it is not the interest of Great Britain to encourage people to winter in Newfoundland; and he cannot be ignorant that many of the lower order who now stay would, if it were not for the convenience with which they obtain absolution here, go home for it at least once in two or three years; and the governor has been misinformed, if Mr. O’Donnell, instead of advising their return to Ireland, does not rather encourage them to winter in this country.

“On board the Salisbury, St. Johns, Nov. 2nd, 1790.”

On the 5th January, 1796, Pius the Sixth appointed Dr. O’Donnell Vicar Apostolic of Newfoundland and Bishop of Thyatira in partibus. He was consecrated at Quebec on the 21st September in the same year. Dr. O’Donnell’s successors in the See were respectively the Reverend Doctors Lambert, Scallen, and Fleming, and the subject of our sketch, who was consecrated in 1847.

The Right Reverend John Thomas Mullock is a native of Limerick, where he was born in 1807. He was educated at Seville, that picturesque city of Moorish streets and Christian temples. Like his predecessors in the Bishopric of Newfoundland, he is by profession a Franciscan, one of that great missionary order, whose members, in obedience to their vows, are bound to spread themselves over the face of the globe to convert the heathen and the infidel. This duty in Newfoundland must at first have been the reverse of encouraging. The moral and religious state of the Roman Catholic population, at the time when their first Bishop was consecrated, was deplorable. Without family ties, without education, without religious ministrations, with uncertain employment, money abundant, and liquor cheap, the neglected fishermen of that island were in a wretched plight, and fitting subjects for the care of their zealous and self-denying clergy.

It is instructive to notice with what exemplary industry the subject of our sketch sought to promote not only the moral and religious welfare, but the social and physical well-being of the people. It is pleasant to observe with what earnestness he impressed on them the duty of loving their country, and with what eloquence he shewed that it is a country worthy of their love. The Bishop, with commendable wisdom, eschews politics, and is more reticent than he need be in expressing opinions on military subjects. He nevertheless hints by what means his Sovereign Lady the Queen may retain her supremacy in the North Atlantic, and how she may paralyze the commerce of the entire seaboard of America. St. Johns and Bermuda are, in his opinion, the two great bastions of the continent. Retaining these, and the trident of Neptune which she now possesses, Great Britain may in his opinion hold the sceptre of the world.

“Let no one say,” remarks the Bishop, “that Providence has not given a compensation for everything; the abundant pastures of Ireland are compensated by the rich sea pastures of Newfoundland. The cod fish, the great source of our wealth, would not flourish among us, if we had the hot and vapoury waters of the gulf stream bathing our shores. The painted fishes, which inhabit the tropical and warm seas, have no flavor, cannot be preserved, and never would form an article of commerce like our cod, the king of all fish.”

Then, too, with respect to the climate, the Bishop has something to say which may occasion surprise to many people:—

“The gulf stream, then, has to answer for the fogs of Newfoundland as well as for the humidity of Ireland; and though it does not bathe our shores, still a large portion of heat is thrown off by it, which accounts for the mildness of our climate in comparison with that of the neighboring continent. We never have the thermometer down to zero, unless once or twice a year, and then only for a few hours, and for a few degrees—three or four, perhaps ten—while we hear of the temperature of ten and twenty below zero is Canada and New Brunswick, and this life-destroying cold continuing for days, perhaps weeks. Then, see another effect of this; the Canadians and other North Americans of the same latitude are obliged to keep up hot stoves continually almost in their houses, while we have open fire places, or at most Franklins; our children, I may say, as lightly clad as in summer, spend a large portion of their time in the open air; and thus, while our neighbors have the sallow hue of confinement tinging their cheeks, and their children look comparatively pale and delicate, our youngsters are blooming with the rosy hue of health, developing their energies by air and exercise, and preparing themselves for the battle of life hereafter, either as hardy mariners or healthy matrons—the blooming mothers of a powerful race. Thus the gulf stream, which clouds our skies, paints the cheek, invigorates the population, pours out to us in its return from the northern basin, the arctic current which encircles our seas with fish, and enables us to furnish this luxurious and necessary article of food to the languid inter-tropical nations, for no food is so wholesome or so agreeable to the inhabitants of warm countries, whose diet is mostly vegetable, as the dried codfish of Newfoundland.”

The beneficence of Providence appears at least in Newfoundland to be sadly frustrated by the perverseness of man. The very people, whom no difficulty can intimidate, no danger appal, whose cradle is the tempest, and to whom all hardship is sport, are very different persons afloat and ashore. At sea, they are necessarily laborious; on shore, they are constitutionally idle. Speaking of the agricultural capabilities of the island, the Bishop says:—

“On the southern and western shores, indeed everywhere in the island, I have seen the finest sheep walks; and what is better, the droppings of the sheep in this country induce a most luxuriant crop of white clover, and prevent the spread of bog plants. If sheep were encouraged, we should have fresh meat in abundance, and their fleeces would furnish warm clothing in winter for our people of a better quality than the stuff they now buy, ‘half waddy and devil’s dust,’ and which impoverishes them to procure it; domestic manufactures would be encouraged, the people would become industrious and comfortable, and every housewife in our outharbors would realize, in some sort, that sublime description of a valiant woman by Solomon (Prov. c. 31)—‘She hath put out her hands to strong things, and her fingers have taken hold of the spindle; she hath sought wool and flax, and hath wrought by the counsel of her hands; she shall not fear for her house in the cold of snow, for all her domestics are clothed with double garments; she has looked well to the paths of her house, and hath not eaten her bread idle; her children rose up and called her blessed; her husband had praised her.’ But, unfortunately, this great blessing of sheep pasture is marred by one curse, and idleness and poverty are too often the accompaniments of the poor man’s fire-side in the long winter. As long as a vicious herd of dogs are allowed to be kept in the country, so long will poverty be the winter portion of the poor. In no part of the world would such an iniquity be permitted. There is a law offering £5 for the destruction of a wolf, and I never heard of £5 worth of mutton being destroyed by wolves since the days of Cabot; but why do not our legislators, if they have the interest of the people at heart (and, according to their election speeches, every member is actuated by the most philanthropic and patriotic motives), pass and enforce laws against dogs, which devour every sheep they can find, and have almost exterminated the breed: for no one will keep sheep while his neighbor is allowed to keep wolves.”

Not only are herds of useless dogs kept to the prejudice of flocks of useful sheep, and the spoiling of nutritious mutton, but the people appear to be guilty of great neglect in other directions.

“It is a shame,” remarks the Bishop, “that even in St. Johns we have little chance of a turkey till the Halifax steamer comes in; and the goose, the most nutritious, the most useful and the most easily kept of all fowl in a northern country like this, is just as scarce. In the north of Europe you get a goose almost every day, and a good roast goose for dinner, and a feather bed to rest on, are not to be despised; and here, in the very habitat of the goose, the very climate of all others where the bird could be brought to the greatest perfection, and the wild goose, which breeds in enormous numbers, is the most delicate of our wild fowl, we get geese from Nova Scotia, and feather beds from Ireland or Hamburgh.”

Speaking of the people themselves, the Bishop observes:—

“I have found them, in all parts of the island, hospitable, generous, and obliging; Catholics and Protestants live together in the greatest harmony, and it is only in print we find anything, except on extraordinary occasions, like disunion among them. I have always, in the most Protestant districts, experienced kindness and consideration. I speak not only of the agents of mercantile houses, who are remarkable for their hospitality and attention to all visitors, or of magistrates; but the fishermen were always ready to join Catholics in manning a boat when I required it; and I am happy to say that Catholics have acted likewise to their clergymen. It is a pleasing reflection that, though we are not immaculate, and rum excites to evil, still, out of a population of over 130,000, we have rarely more than eight or ten prisoners in gaol, and grievous crimes are happily most rare, capital offences scarcely heard of.”

These extracts may perhaps not only afford us a glimpse of the moral and social condition of a large class in Newfoundland, but enable us to obtain some insight into the character of the prelate, who, for the last eighteen years, has been Bishop of St. Johns. Living among a sea-faring and sea-loving race, he seems to have grafted the heartiness of a sailor upon the habit of a divine. There is no circumlocution in his utterances; having something to say, he says it racily, as if from the quarter deck, in language that all may understand, and none can misinterpret. He inculcates on all the duty of being contented, and explains to all why they have reason to be so. Nor is it a light argument that he, a native of the Emerald Isle, of a land of perennial verdure; a student of Seville, whose tastes have been cultivated on the beautiful banks of the Guadalquiver—a traveller, whose intellect has been stored with the learning of the old world; who had wandered over the continent of Europe; had dwelt in the sunshine of Spain, or amidst the vineyards of France—should be able to say to his audience in Bonaventure College, that Newfoundland, the country of their birth, or of their and his adoption, the allotted scene of his labor, and in all likelihood the place of his rest, notwithstanding its drawbacks and disabilities, the hard features of its climate, and the rugged qualities of its soil, contains attractions sufficient to secure happiness, and motives enough to provoke gratitude—gratitude for what God in His bounty has bestowed, as well as gratitude for what God in His wisdom has withheld.

Hamilton, Canada West.

Men at some time are masters of their fates;

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,

But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Similar surnames very naturally suggest the idea of kinship between persons to whom such names belong. The eye, sympathizing with the mind, is very apt, under such circumstances, to busy itself in discovering points of resemblance, in making out something like a family likeness. We do not know that the subject of our sketch is at all related to his great namesake, who lived three centuries and a half ago; but we think the photograph on the opposite page bears some resemblance to the memorable medallion likeness of George Buchanan, which looks so gravely at us from the covers of Blackwood’s Magazine. The forms of the faces are not alike, but there is similitude in the tracery of the wrinkles with which they are seamed.

His eye-brow dark, and eye of fire,

Showed spirit proud, and prompt to ire;

Yet lines of thought upon his cheek

Bid deep design and counsel speak.

Nor on his cheek only: for, like the mapped brow of an athlete, the forehead of each appears as if its owner had wrestled with strong intellectual antagonists, and had used all the muscle of his mind to gain the mastery. The wrinkles traverse both foreheads in straight lines, and in their furrowed depths are suggestive rather of the stepping stones of genius than of the handiwork of time. Such wrinkles are grand wrinkles, leading the fancy upwards with ladder-like directness from the gates of vision to the dome of thought. Nor is the observation original or of recent application, for we remember Mr. Buchanan to have remarked that he was once requested by an artist, who was a physiognomist, as well as a painter, “to sit for the lines across the forehead” of a portrait he was painting of his illustrious namesake, George Buchanan.

Passing, however, from fancies of a remote period to Mr. Buchanan’s personal history, we learn that he was born at Glasgow, on the 21st July, 1810; that he is the fourth son of the late Peter Buchanan, Esquire, of Auchmar, an ancient family seat, situate on the banks of Loch Lomond, at the pass of Ballmaha, where it was the practice of that popular freebooter, Rob Roy McGregor, one of the graceless tribe poetically termed “men of the mist,” to herd such cattle as were not protected by blackmail. This estate, being in the indicated locality, very probably was included within the property satirically apostrophized by Richard Frank, “soldier and scrivener,” who besides being a trooper in Cromwell’s army, was apparently a sturdy Englishman, alike prejudiced, and plain spoken; who had little love for the Buchanans in his heart and no fear of them before his eyes. “Beautiful Buchanan!” exclaimed that cynical critic, with visions of the fat pastures of his own fair land before his eyes. “Beautiful Buchanan! besieged with bogs, and barricaded with birch trees; the Highlander’s landscape, and the Lowlander’s prospect, whose boggy swamps incommode the traveller.”

The family interest in their estate, comprising an area of fourteen hundred acres, did not prevent the owner from avoiding husbandry, and giving his attention to the more profitable pursuits of commerce; for, besides being a landholder of Stirlingshire, Mr. Buchanan, of Auchmar, was a merchant of Glasgow. His son, of the same name, in the year 1830, sold the estate, including the “bogs and the birch trees,” to the Duke of Montrose, and applied the money he received for it to the extension of his Canadian business.

The subject of our sketch was, we believe, intended for one of the learned professions. To this end he was liberally educated at the Glasgow grammar school, and afterwards, with a view to his entering the university, by a private tutor; but the originality and independence of character which have marked Mr. Buchanan’s career, appear to have been as conspicuous in his boyhood as in his more mature life. In the year 1825, when on his way to purchase a college gown, he met a friend of his father’s, who offered to secure for him a clerkship in the firm of William Guild & Co. Young Isaac Buchanan, being thus tempted by the attractions of commerce, and a good introduction to its mysteries, did not purchase his college gown. His father was absent from home, and the son could not then take counsel of his parent. Perhaps he thought it inexpedient to do so, for, with intuitive perception, he seemed to recognize the flood-tide of his history; and the fortune which has followed may be attributable to the accuracy of his view. Thus moved, Isaac Buchanan, the boy of fifteen, made his resolve. He turned his back on letters, and his face to trade; and thence advanced in his chosen career with such extraordinary rapidity, that at the age of twenty his mind and character were impressed with the stamp of mature manhood. At that early age he became a member of the firm which he had so recently entered as a gentleman adventurer, and such was the confidence reposed in his judgment and sagacity, that three years afterwards the Canadian business of that great firm was wholly transferred to his charge.

Trade may be allied to genius, as well as to thrift, and a love of letters, while it elevates one and purifies the other, adds poetry to both. In the realms of commerce there are many manors controlled by separate masters, and governed by different minds. Hazard enters necessarily into all systems, but it is wisdom which determines whether such hazards result in profit or in loss. The earlier adventurers of previous centuries, moved by study and attracted by gain, were also sustained by heroism. Courage allied itself with commerce, and valor frequently secured what genius had projected. Much of the poetry of his calling seemed to infuse itself into the mind of young Buchanan. He was not content to move in the trade grooves wherein timid men had found safety, nor was he inclined to accept as maxims, conclusions which he knew were feeble and suspected were effête. He was a kind of commercial knight errant, to whom trade had slender attractions, if severed from daring. Thus to him commerce represented a power, which, like the moveable column of a skilful general, was chiefly valuable when actively handled. Mr. Buchanan therefore pushed his available agencies to the front, and having judiciously manœuvred and massed his forces, he proceeded to occupy the country, making the ground thus acquired a point d’appui for further acquisitions. Thus he continued to advance his business, and accumulate his gains. The elders among the Montreal merchants shook their venerable heads, and surrendered themselves to a course of moral sentences and gloomy predictions on the unprecedented follies of a wilful young man, and of course resolved that such rashness would end in ruin. Time, the approver, shewed there was wisdom as well as courage in the tactics. Mr. Isaac Buchanan became the avant courier of Western commerce. From Glasgow, trade had been impelled westward to New York and Montreal, thence to Toronto, afterwards to Hamilton and to London; in all of which cities, with the single exception of Toronto, Mr. Buchanan not only established branches of his business, but continues to this day to be a partner in each branch. Nor should it be overlooked that trade, though undertaken for profit, is not necessarily selfish. Education, knowledge, civilization and charity, should, and commonly do, travel in its train. Those who are familiar with the Western Province are probably aware how thoroughly Mr. Buchanan has identified himself with the history of its progress and advancement. Almost every village institute might testify to his benevolence, while the Great Western Railway can bear witness to the earnestness, as well as to the persistency, of his endeavor to establish that great traffic line of communication between the United States and Canada.

Though we have grouped many points together, it should not be lost sight of that they were not all accomplished at the same time. The rapid history of successful commerce was varied by contact with the rugged course of public affairs. The well-to-do merchant was not permitted to “mind his own business” merely. He was considered to be, and he was, a representative man; and of his class, perhaps, the foremost man in Western Canada. Capitalists, and those who were struggling for, as well as those who had succeeded by honorable trade in gathering a competence, were not content that landholders and lawyers should account themselves, or be accounted, the only aristocracy of Western Canada. Commerce had its sensibilities as well as its ambition. Traders had their feelings as well as their hopes, and though they were patient under what they then regarded as social slights, they were not therefore content to be excluded from public honors. Mr. Buchanan, who was identified with their class, and was supposed to sympathize with their feelings, was, as we shall see presently, very shortly called upon to represent their interests in the Provincial Parliament.

Terms are not always available which may pointedly, as well as truly, represent a state of society; and we are sometimes obliged to use phrases which are more conventional than exact; which convey meanings more precisely than they express them. The Governments of Upper and Lower Canada were in a great measure identical in form. Each Province had its ruling families. Responsible Government had been talked about in one of those Provinces, but experimentally it was unknown to either. It was a matter of accident whether the government for the time being was a despotism or an oligarchy; whether it was ruled by an individual, or by a compact of individuals. If the representative of the Sovereign happened to be endowed with a clear intellect, and a strong will, the government might, perhaps, most accurately be described by the former phrase. If, however, he happened to be an indolent or a weak man, indifferent to public affairs, the government would probably resolve itself into the latter form. In either case the surroundings were the same. The governor, no matter what his character, was nominally advised by an executive council, and this council was generally, though not always, composed of the heads of departments; that is to say—of gentlemen who held their appointments for life, and who necessarily, and from the accident of birth or the force of social affinities, were members of, or became connected with, the ruling families of the country. The system admitted of no other result. “New blood” was occasionally introduced, but it was soon absorbed by the old blood. The weaker gravitated towards, and was lost in the stronger body. As a class, moreover, its members were provokingly long lived. They received their appointments, among other reasons, because they were respectable; and they were long lived, among other reasons, because they lived respectably. Death occasionally removed a member, but it did not destroy an influence. The conservative qualities, which are almost inseparable from official life, sufficed to absorb all other qualities. The responsibilities, or the sweets of office, appeared then, as now, to produce the like effect on all. It mattered little to what political party an individual belonged before he was drafted into the public service; for the peculiar shade of his political opinions was soon fused and lost in the governing colour, which in those days was as determined as it was distinct. This result very much interfered with the aims of those, who, like Mr. Baldwin, desired ministerial responsibility; or who, like Mr. Buchanan, wished for a popular representative administration, that would meet and dispose of the questions which then disquieted the Province; particularly of one question, which especially disquieted him.

We cannot reason on matters of feeling, and to feel properly we must conform to certain conditions more easily stated than understood by those who have not had the advantage of being physically brought up in a Scotch atmosphere, and spiritually nourished on Scotch divinity. The clergy reserve question produced, as it was calculated to produce, great disquietude in the public mind, and its final settlement was earnestly desired by all who devoutly believed that the ways of religion should be as peaceful as they are pleasant. It did not, however, seem to be the property question raised by the controversy which most disturbed Mr. Buchanan. He could have borne the loss of many things, but he could not bear an affront to his national church. Extreme sensitiveness is often accompanied by extreme earnestness of character. We can easily sympathize with Mr. Buchanan’s reverential love of the church of his fathers; but we cannot understand his quoting with approval Lord Sydenham’s declaration, which seems to be more sounding than clear, that the Scotch could not be expected to be loyal to “a government that made them dissenters by act of parliament.” Though the observation is, as we think, in many ways, singularly confused and inaccurate, for it is difficult to understand in what way people could legally dissent from what had no legal existence; still there can be little doubt that whatever its defects, according to the canons of theological controversy, may have been, the observation did illustrate a state of thought on the part of a large and influential section of the population of a very alarming and menacing description. Mr. Buchanan was not free from its influence, and there is no doubt that he wished to quiet the fear by removing the cause out of which it arose. The rebellion in Upper Canada had proved itself to be trivial in its proportions, and impotent in its powers; still there remained among the smoldering embers of those unhappy times the inextinguished spirit of mischief, which the government of the hour might kindle or quench, according, as it was moved by moderate or extreme counsels.

But notwithstanding his strong opinions on the clergy reserve question, Mr. Buchanan, in the year 1840, appears to have been regarded as a moderate politician, and that he was so may be assumed from the fact that, at the first election which took place after the union of the provinces, both the conservative and reform parties at Toronto requested him in turn to become their representative in parliament. Mr. Buchanan was a merchant, and the conservatives hoped, with the help of his name, to conciliate the commercial classes. Mr. Buchanan was, nevertheless, a reformer, and as such he was especially suited to the needs of that party, for on many points he was with them in opinion; and as he had during the rebellion actively and personally supported the authorities, he was in a position to attract many votes which otherwise would have been lost to the reform candidate. Then, too, the stereotyped “British connection” cry of the opposite party, the cry which had commonly led to victory, would be without point, and consequently without value in the election contest which was then approaching.

And a contest it unquestionably was. Those who fought it, had reason to remember it; and those who paid for it, we incline to think had reason to remember it, too. It occurred in the old fashioned times, and was carried on in the old fashioned way. Men sported their party colors, and fought for the colors they sported. The hue of their opinions gleamed on their breasts, and sometimes glowed in the palms of their hands. Musicians appeared never to weary of their performances. All day, and all night too, with brazen persistency, they abandoned themselves to the exhilarating duty of extracting sound from all sorts of instruments; and though not remarkable either for precision or exactness, the style was sufficiently distinguishable to determine whether the efforts were intended to attract votes to “Dunn and Buchanan,” or to “Sherwood and Munro.” Two members were to be returned, and the electors were called upon to make their choice among the four candidates whose names we have placed in double brackets.

To appreciate the contest, it should be remembered that, besides the display of party colors, which was then perfectly legal, the law made no provision for a plurality of polling places. Votes were token at one stand only. The election, moreover, lasted from nine o’clock on Monday morning until five o’clock on Saturday evening, and it was, we may conjecture, accompanied by very exhausting employment, and sustained, as we remember, by very stimulating refreshments. It resulted by a very narrow majority in the return of “Dunn and Buchanan.”

It was very well known that the service required of Mr. Buchanan could only be rendered by him at great personal and pecuniary sacrifice. It was also known that Mr. Buchanan was a faithful subject of the Queen, and therefore imputations on his loyalty would recoil only on those who made them. His private motives, and his personal character, being beyond the reach of attack, the opposite party was somewhat straightened to discover the weak place in his armor. Taking counsel of their animosity, they unwisely resolved to abuse him generally, to snub him as a youth, and to sneer at him as a trader. “Who is this Mr. Buchanan?” each placarded wall, and fence, and gateway was plastered to enquire. “He was only a shop boy the other day with William Guild & Co.,” the same delicate organs of information were offensively instructed to answer. Those who may have read what has been already written will have learned that the term “other day” meant, in fact, eleven years before.

Contempt as a weapon does not answer any better at elections than it does in warfare. Reaction followed, and those who laughed at a pointless sneer, soon pointedly censured the sneer they laughed at. The public mind recovered its equilibrium; the sense of justice awoke to its duties, and asked whether such tactics were either wise or fair. That they were neither in the present case was speedily demonstrated. Many may remember with what cleverness and address the “shop boy” turned the placard to account. There was legitimate irony, as well as amusing banter, in the recoil. Speaking from the hustings, holding the ragged placard in his hand, and looking from his antagonists to the crowd, Mr. Buchanan said, “You see, they,” pointing to Messrs. Sherwood and Munro, “accuse me of being one of yourselves.” The honest home-thrust was welcomed with a cheer. The cheer, though only partial, expressed reaction of sentiment, which required only to be improved. With accurate judgment Mr. Buchanan saw that the hit would bear repeating, and he repeated it therefore again and again, until it was acknowledged by the general applause of that swaying and excited crowd. But the policy of contempt was not abandoned with the first discomfiture. It was renewed in different forms, and under different guises. The weapons of attack were, it must be confessed, clumsily contrived and wretchedly tempered, and it occasioned no surprise that they fell blunted and broken before the object at which they were aimed. The crowd which had been moved to cheer was prepared to laugh. Some may remember when the sluices of laughter were thus dexterously opened, what a sea of mirth seemed to spread over that listening crowd. All laughed in ways not, perhaps, very dissimilar one from another. All except the subject of our sketch with respect to whom, in the peculiarity of his laugh, “none but himself can be his parallel.”

His laugh! who shall describe Mr. Buchanan’s laugh? It is like nothing that we remember. We have seen the stage laugh of Mephistopheles—a pantomime of sardonic aspect, horribly sinister, and as silent as death. We have heard several specimens of the “loud laugh that shows the vacant mind.” We have observed with some attention various intermediate shades of laughter, from the smile, eloquent in peaceful high-bred beauty, which knows no sound, to the noisy rollicking out and out shout of irrepressible exulting.

Sport, that wrinkled care derides

And laughter holding both his sides.

But we have never seen or heard the counterpart of Mr. Buchanan’s laugh. Some persons dismiss the matter with the remark that the laugh comes from his chest. This description is to a certain extent correct, for the ear and the eye concur in opinion that the notes, very droll notes too, do issue from his chest. The curious feature of the case is that they appear to escape from below and not from above his cravat. This peculiarity by no means exhausts the difficulty, for though we may indicate the point whence sound departs, we cannot determine the place where it is generated. From the curious premonitory symptoms which find expression in his face, we know that Mr. Buchanan desires to indulge in the luxury of laughing. These outward and visible signs, however, precede by a comparatively long interval the actual sounds of laughter. The report follows the flash with perplexing deliberation, and suggests the impression that the distance to be travelled must necessarily be great. Laughter, like fancy,

              May be bred

In the heart or in the head;

But in the case before us, distance lends probability to conjecture, and conjecture inclines us to suppose that its seat must be looked for in some out of the way part of Mr. Buchanan’s person or in some unlikely portion of his apparel. In fact he appears to possess ventriloquous powers, and though he seems to make the frill of his shirt the musical centre of the performance, he could, we incline to think, were he so disposed, devolve the duty on his shoe strings, for apparently he can “locate” his laugh wherever he likes to do so. We have dwelt on this personal peculiarity, for it possesses the merit of being a power, and a power moreover of such subtle and contagious force that the deliberations of Parliament have been interrupted and well nigh suspended by its exercise.

At the close of the election in 1841, success justified laughter; and yet it may be safely conjectured that Mr. Buchanan’s gain was only the commencement of a great loss. The hour of victory to him was by no means an untroubled hour. He had gained what he had no inclination to seek for, and what in point of value was nothing to him. He had caused another to lose what that other had every reason to seek for, and what, it is scarcely an exaggeration to say, was every thing to him. The victory was complete, but there remained in the mind of the victor much generous sympathy for the vanquished which qualified the triumph. There had been bitter speaking and bitter writing, hard words and hard thoughts, but the wormwood and the gall subsided as the time drew near for declaring the final state of the poll. Reflecting upon his valueless winning, and upon his chief opponent’s irreparable losing, Mr. Buchanan was as ready, we believe to do then, what he had offered to do at the commencement of the election, namely, to retire in Mr. Sherwood’s favor, if that gentleman would only pledge himself to support and to advocate the principle of responsible government. The truth is, Mr. Buchanan was then what he has continued to be since, and is still, a moderate and not a party politician. People have very often imagined him to be what he is not, and have sought to place him where he has declined to place himself. The first act of the “radical reformer,” as he was called by many who supported and by many who opposed him, was to take the chair at a public dinner given in honor of the conservative, Lieut. Governor Sir George Arthur. The proceeding was deprecated by many and applauded by none. Time tempered judgment. Genial old fashioned people who appeared to reason the matter to themselves, by a process of thought satisfactory at least to their own minds, arrived at conclusions which were as just as they were peculiar. The dinner included a specimen of “the roast beef of old England,” which in the shape of “a baron” was placed before Mr. Buchanan, did much to conciliate the good will of the scornful. It was evident to more than one fleshly-minded Englishman that the chairman had seen a baron of beef before that day, for “he carved it like our Squire.” The double fact associated itself with soothing reflections. The State was deemed to be safe in the care of one who knew what a baron of beef was, and who had the county qualification of being able to carve it like a “Squire.”

Personal independence and political independence are regarded by party men as highly objectionable and inconvenient traits of character. Leaders of Assemblies very naturally desire to be able to rely absolutely on the votes of their supporters, and in the main it is fair and right for them to expect such votes. It cannot however be denied that there are times when the character of a Parliament, and the credit of a country may be saved by the seasonable intervention of the members who are supposed to sit on the cross benches. The influence of moderate men and moderate counsels on ordinary occasions may be inconsiderable, but when debates are sharp and divisions close, when the fight is too hard for thought, and too angry for justice, then the force of such an influence is felt in steadying the temper of discussion, and restoring it to the condition of order and right. Men of honorable minds, who are really independent, rarely boast of their independence, and they never exert it for their personal advancement. Self with them is not a motive, nor is faction a means. The quality of independence may have been and perhaps has been discredited by some who have assumed it; but the imposture in such cases has proved too transparent for actual service. People generally, from inattention or indifference, may be unequal to the duty or disinclined to the task of exactly analyzing the value and tendency of specific measures; but they are not slow to detect the difference between patriotism and selfishness, between what is real and what is counterfeit. Indeed the occasional affectation of virtue on the part of those who have ceased to respect its obligations, being only an aggravated form of vice, deceives none though it may hurt many. Honest men may see the vice, and feel the evil of it, and deploring both, will probably be disheartened and discouraged, but they will not become indifferent or inactive. Their conviction of what is right will still be expressed with emphasis and pursued with constancy. Being controlled by wisdom and temper, that conviction will exert a calming influence in assemblies whose members commonly recognize no other allegiance than that which they owe to their party or their leader. Of course, such independent action is a source of perplexity and disappointment to the parties ranged on either side of the House, and the members who practice it will be alternately scolded or flattered, avoided or conciliated, shunned or courted, as occasion may suggest. Such men are among the difficulties of statesmen. They are the perplexities of Parliamentary or in other words of party Government. It frequently happens too that such persons are as original in their thoughts as they are unmanageable in their proceedings, that their opinions are as curiously intricate as their action is commendably straightforward. No party can act with them, and no party can act without them. They make and unmake ministers, and yet have little inclination to assume ministerial obligations. Should they do so, it is only to discover that the responsibilities which those obligations impose are in the highest degree irksome to themselves, and troublesome to their colleagues. Without the discipline of experience or the habits of cohesion, they suddenly find themselves required to put their thoughts into fetters, to hush speech to silence, to restrain the inconvenient vagaries of their honest opinions, and to bear with equanimity the chaffing of those who with provoking persistency and becoming politeness coaxingly enquire “why the honorable gentleman being in the position and having the power, does not give shape to the opinions he is known to entertain, or consistency to the policy it has been his practice to advocate?” As types of the class we hope we shall do no wrong to a memory by naming the late Mr. Merritt, and no wrong to a person by adding the subject of our sketch.

In writing of himself, Mr. Buchanan has said “that he is of no party,” that he belongs to a class more numerous than either of the present self-styled parties: this class is “the party of order.” This order, he adds, will comprise “conservative liberals,” or old reformers who have been taught by experience and are willing now to adopt the word “conservative,” at least in its adjective sense; “liberal conservatives” or old tories, or their descendants, who have also been taught by experience, and are now willing to adopt the word “liberal,” at least in its adjective sense; and conservatives, and conservative liberals, who have unwittingly been mingled with the extreme democratic parties of both Provinces. With respect to the last mentioned extreme parties, Mr. Buchanan has nothing to suggest by way of adoption, but a good deal by way of avoidance. He looks upon such parties with feelings of unqualified aversion, as dangerous alike in their principles and their aims. He denounces them for their inflammable—he terms them “incendiary” elements, and he therefore very earnestly cautions the country against the mischief which their ascendancy would, in his opinion, bring about.

Before we refer to Mr. Buchanan’s writings, it may be convenient to note some further points of interest in his personal history. In January, 1843, he married Agnes, the second daughter of Robert Jarvis, Esq., an influential merchant of Glasgow. At the general election consequent on the dissolution of Parliament in 1844, Mr. Buchanan was not a candidate, but he heartily sympathized with his Excellency Lord Metcalfe on that trying occasion. He was an unsuccessful candidate for Hamilton at the election in 1854, having been defeated by the late Sir Allan Napier MacNab. It was generally supposed that Mr. Buchanan would, in 1856, have allowed himself to be nominated for the Burlington Division as a candidate for the Legislative Council, in which case it is probable that the amiable gentleman who was then returned would not have contested the honor. It was however previously arranged that Mr. Buchanan should succeed Sir A. N. MacNab as member for the City of Hamilton in the Lower House, as it was then understood that the latter would not again offer himself as a candidate. In the following year, 1857, Mr. Buchanan was elected for Hamilton. He was again returned at the general elections in 1861 and 1863. On the resignation of the Sandfield Macdonald-Dorion administration, he accepted the office of President of the Council in the “Taché-Macdonald” government. In the month of June, 1864, on the introduction of Mr. Brown, Mr. McDougall and Mr. Mowat into the Cabinet, Mr. Buchanan availed himself of the opportunity to follow the inclination of his mind, and retire from the post he had little desire to obtain and none to keep. Mr. Buchanan is President of the Board of Trade of Hamilton, and served several years ago in the like capacity at Toronto. On any occasion of international interest, affecting the trade of the Province and the United States, he is, we believe, almost invariably requested to undertake the troublesome duties of a delegate.

Though the old Buchanan estate in Scotland passed from the family to other hands, the recollection of that possession is pleasant even to those who have inherited the name only. In the beautiful eyrie, on the mountain near Hamilton, where Mr. Buchanan has built his much-coveted Canadian nest, he will probably miss the historic pass of Ballmaha and the crystal beauty of Loch Lomond, for the charms of both are mirrored on his mind like familiar pictures. Still the name of the old place will be preserved and perpetuated in his new home, for he has called his abode at Clairmont by the unforgotten name of “Auchmar.”

The peculiarity and the earnestness of Mr. Buchanan’s mind incline him to hold opinions apparently paradoxical if not wholly contradictory. In matters political and economical they appear to belong to the Pitt school. The old Imperial toast of other days, “Ships, Colonies, and Commerce,” embodies principles of government whose truth is as clear to his mind and as dear to his heart as they were to our fathers in the days of old. But though vehemently opposed to the modern political dogma of free trade, he is an earnest advocate of the modern ecclesiastical one of a free church. Were Sir William Curtis to return to life, and with a face radiant with rosy glory to supplement the stereotyped commercial toast of “Ships, Colonies, and Commerce,” with the stereotyped political one of “Queen, Church, and Constitution,” we incline to think that the resistant Scotch quality of Mr. Buchanan’s theology would rise in resentful rebellion. Though he would certainly possess the grace and good manners to keep silence, he would decline to embitter his wine by dropping the offensive toast in his glass. His intellect would spurn a sentiment which not only takes no thought of, but utterly repudiates the principles of democracy as a chief element of Church government. Mr. Buchanan likes to choose his own spiritual pastor. He does not like to have one chosen for him. The old fashion and the new fashion, the old thoughts and the new thoughts are strangely commingled in Mr. Buchanan’s character. The moral magnet not only possesses attractive and repellent powers, but it has a knack of showing that it possesses them. Thus, as between the great governing forces of the old country, the subject of our sketch would probably occupy a position of curious isolation. On political and economical questions, his vote would be looked for among the names of the “Country party,” while on ecclesiastical or educational questions we might expect to find it with the “Manchester sect.”

Mr. Buchanan is an earnest as well as a voluminous writer, and had we space to philosophize on his opinions as well as gossip about his history, there is no lack of material for discourse. We can only say that the subjects of political economy, and the relations of the Colonies to the Empire, have received much anxious thought from him. We have before us two works of his, of considerable dimensions, one on the Industrial Politics of America, and the other entitled “Britain the Country versus Britain the Empire.” It is, by the way, an amusing peculiarity of our fellow subjects who are born north of the Tweed, to call the United Kingdom by a pet name of their own—a name which would sorely perplex an ill-informed foreigner, if his gazetteer, like ours, makes no mention of any such country as “Britain.” If, however, the title displays eccentricity, the work itself is full of such thought as will enter largely into the reflections of the future historian of the “Rise and Progress” or of the “Decline and Fall” of the British Empire: for it is a review of the economical legislation of the last twenty-five years.

Experience and the course of events will demonstrate whether the old or the new school of economists are right. The time for speculative debate has passed away; moreover it must be allowed that if the apparent results, a surprising increase of trade and a wonderful accumulation of wealth, are the only tests by which to determine the national prosperity, then the minorities on those great issues would have to submit in silence to the scornful triumph of the victors. There are however many, and the subject of our sketch is one of them, who do not regard the matter as proven; who still think as our fathers thought, still believe as they believed, on the great issues with which what is termed free trade is associated. Mr. Buchanan may be disposed to agree in the policy which prompts a manufacturer “to buy cheap and to sell dear;” but he further desires, on the principle of a well-to-do trader, not only to attract customers but to keep them by using them well, and by establishing between himself and them an identity of advantage. He regards the British Empire as a political, as well as a manufacturing power, and the integrity of the former is in his opinion necessary to the expansion of the latter. For the maintenance of that power and the support of those manufactures, “Ships, Colonies, and Commerce” are as necessary now as they were in the years that are past. The assertion which is made by some that free trade and colonial possessions are incompatible properties, is of itself a statement of the gravest importance, and one which is emphatically reiterated by Mr. Buchanan. The requirements of the new policy, so it is stated, oblige England to conciliate foreign countries, and this process of conciliation must necessarily be and has frequently been carried out, it might seem presumptuous to say, at the expense of the permanent interests of the Kingdom, but at least without regard to the present interests of the colonies. Foreign propitiation appears to include if not to necessitate Colonial disparagement. The practice of cringing to the large customer is apt to generate slights to the small one. Then, too, there is a looseness observable in the tone in which old ideas are referred to. The sentiments of affection and loyalty towards the Sovereign and the State are, for example, apparently to be determined by considerations of profit and loss, of interest or convenience. Opinion is substituted for principle, moral considerations give place to material ones, while the very form and structure of our Government are made subordinate to the accident of an extended or a contracted trade. Mr. Buchanan distinguishes between free imports and free trade, and forcibly points out what he believes was the true Imperial policy, namely, for the British Government to have established reciprocal trade with her colonial possessions in every part of the world. Thus would her own Provinces have supplied cheap bread to her people at home, while her population, instead of strengthening a foreign and unfriendly power, would have continued to be her faithful as well as prosperous subjects; her best customers in time of peace and her best soldiers in time of war. Whatever may be the merit of Mr. Buchanan’s opinions on this subject, it will not be denied that they lean to virtue’s side, for they glow with patriotic love of his own and his adopted country. It is his desire that Canada should be free, prosperous, and happy; the delight of the old world and the envy of the new. With the lines of Tennyson, with which he commences his work on the Industrial Politics of America, we shall finish our sketch. They are applicable alike to him and to his thoughts; to the Government of his affections aid Government of his choice.

O statesman, guard us, guard the eye, the soul

Of Europe, keep our noble England whole,

And save the one true seed of freedom sown

Betwixt a people and their ancient throne,—

That sober freedom out of which there springs

Our loyal passion for our temperate kings;

For saving that, ye help to save mankind

Till public wrong be crumbled into dust;

And drill the raw world for the march of mind,

Till crowds at length be sane, and crowns be just.


It is a common practice of Mr. Cauchon’s, as of other Parliamentary speakers, to dispose of the personal matter to which a debate may give rise, before he particularly addresses himself to the question before the House. It was on such an occasion, albeit several years ago, when the observations to be answered were of a peculiarly irritating and offensive kind, that two strangers were seated in the front of the gallery within ear shot of the writer, who happened to be present at the time. Those strangers were evidently Englishmen, their speech as well as their appearance indicated their country, and the adjuration by one of them of his patron saint, seemed to corroborate the impression. Mr. Cauchon, we may remark, was more than usually severe in the rebuke he administered. His look, his manner, his quick, short, crisp, sententious English words, were all aglow with rage. “By George!” exclaimed stranger number one, “he’s a rasper! I would rather have him on my side than against me in a fight of that sort.” Leaving the personal matter, Mr. Cauchon proceeded with characteristic energy, to deal with the question before the House. The strangers evidently became more and more interested and not a little amused. He whom we have called “number one” repeated with evident satisfaction the observation he had already made. His companion appeared to arrive at his conclusions with greater deliberation. “I agree with you, but depend on it, he is as unmanageable as he is imperious; he would prefer to lead than to follow; I would rather have him for an ally than a colleague.” Turning to a gentleman who was near him, he enquired the name of the speaker. On being informed, he apparently repeated it to himself, and then said half aloud, “it lacks euphony.” Had the stranger known what many of Mr. Cauchon’s friends are aware of, his mind would probably have discovered some attraction in a name which is not euphonious; for when a student, the authorities of the College, who seemed to have foreknowledge of his career, suggested to the subject of our sketch the propriety of resorting to a by no means unusual practice in some French families, of assuming the surname of another branch of his race, and suggested that of “Laverdière,” as it belonged to his family. The student answered emphatically, and at once in the negative; and with characteristic and prophetic force added that “he would make his name honorable, even though he could not make it poetical.”

If the observations of the strangers are coupled with the declaration of Mr. Cauchon, a step will be made towards an appreciation of his independent and self-sustained character. Like most of our foremost men, he is indebted to little besides his industry and his will, for the position he now fills in the state. His remote ancestor, who was evidently a gentleman of consideration and influence, for he was a member of the Conseil Supérieur, arrived in Canada in the year 1636. His son who bore the name of Cauchon de Laverdière was the Judge of the Court Royale at the Island of Orleans. The descendants of the Judge probably from motives of convenience separated the name into two parts,—one branch of the race adopting the former and the other the latter half of the name. The subject of our sketch descended from that branch through which the least poetical portion has been transmitted. He was born at St. Roch’s, Quebec, on the last day of the year 1816. The house wherein the event took place was purchased by his father of the great Bishop Plessis, of whose character and abilities the subject of our sketch in his early years heard a great deal spoken, and at whose memorable funeral he took, when only a child, some subordinate part. Later in life, but still in the season of his boyhood, he used to accompany his father to the House of Assembly, where, as many may have heard him remark, he was intensely moved by the eloquent speakers of that day, including such men as Vallières, Papineau, and Andrew Stuart. It was on such occasions the observer might see in the wrapt manner of the earnest youth the inclination of the ambition which has matured in the man. Though too young to analyze the merits of an argument, he was not too young to feel the magic of eloquence. His ear, we may easily conjecture, was held in blissful slavery. Passages of tumultuous eloquence, which occasionally startled the Assembly, touched the heart and quickened his fancy. His listening thoughts poised themselves like bees upon the impassioned speech of impassioned men. The very depths of his spirit were stirred with the thrilling accents of subduing oratory. He was hushed and awed; but as he listened, there arose within the silence of his soul, like the new life near a mother’s heart, a resolve to work and win a place in that great Assembly, and there scatter the intellectual wealth which he had resolved to store.

Joseph Cauchon entered the seminary of Quebec, at thirteen, and left at twenty-two years of age. His college life was passed at a time when the animosities of race were rife, when boys of English and French descent cultivated their enmities, it is to be feared, with more diligence than they did their classics. It is, therefore, no matter for surprise, that one possessing the ardent temperament of the subject of our sketch, should make considerable progress in the study of national antipathies. With the ardour of youth, and the heat of prejudice, he dabbled in political science, and, with more passion than judgment, commenced his political career as a writer in “The Liberal;” a newspaper which was then published in the interests of the French Canadian party.

In 1837, while still a student, Mr. Cauchon commenced the study of the law, under the guidance of one whom he always admired, the late Mr. Justice Morin. As, however, it was ruled to be contrary to the college statutes to enter on a professional, before the student had finished his university course, he was obliged to interrupt those studies. In 1839, he was articled to Mr. James Baird, a barrister of large practice. But law had less attraction for him than literature; and though he completed his indentures, it is probable that the profession of which he became a member, like the exact pursuits of his college life, lost its fascination in the more congenial studies of ancient and modern history, contemporary literature, and popular criticism.

By profession a lawyer, but by taste a politician, it was natural enough that he should in the years 1841 and 1842, during the absence from Quebec, of Mr. Parent, have been charged with the duty of editing Le Canadien newspaper. It might be advantageous to compare Mr. Cauchon, the writer of that day, with Mr. Cauchon, the writer of the present time; for the author of twenty-five, and the author of forty-nine, express their thoughts very differently. At the former period, the words are stronger than the thoughts; at the latter, the thoughts are stronger than the words. The effervescent style of youth weakly exhilarates after the manner of ginger-beer, while the earnest style of maturity perceptibly strengthens after the manner of still wine.

On his appointment to the office of Clerk of the Executive Council, Mr. Parent relinquished his interest in Le Canadien. Mr. Cauchon, at the same time, withdrew from the duty of temporary editor. The experience then acquired had confirmed his taste for polemical writing. He, therefore, determined to establish a newspaper, to be named Le Journal de Quebec; and the determination being carried out, with the resolution with which it was adopted, Mr. Cauchon had the satisfaction to discover that in ministering to a need of his intellect, he was also gratifying a desire of his countrymen. His manner of doing so, was in keeping with his character, for he went personally from house to house, and from door to door to seek for subscribers. Mr. Cauchon was probably mindful of the old proverb, “The fox could find no wiser ambassador than himself.” In his case the ambassador succeeded.

On the 1st of December, 1842, the first number of Le Journal de Quebec was issued. In looking back at that number, there is, we think, reason to admire the breadth of view, which, at that early day the young editor was able to take of his own duties and of the duties of his countrymen. “He was prepared,” it was on this spirit he wrote, “without reserve, and in great sincerity to offer a fraternal hand to all, no matter of what race or creed, whose purpose, like his own, was to work for the happiness and prosperity of the country.” From that period, Mr. Cauchon must be regarded as representing two characters. He is a professional journalist and a leading public man. In his former character, he speaks through the columns of his newspaper. In the latter, we must listen to him either within the walls of Parliament, or in the state papers which bear his name. It is probable, that his history in both characters, might be most accurately found in the columns of his newspaper. “The Journal,” as he is accustomed to speak of it, was not only the offspring of his energy, the true child of his brain, but it was also the accredited representative of his thoughts as well as a chronicle of his own times. Amidst the heat and violence of debate, the strife of parties, and the struggles of faction, the journalist was ever jealous of the reputation of his journal; ardently anxious that it should be a power in the realms of thought, he lost no opportunity of nurturing its strength. His aim was to secure an audience, to control opinion, and to make “The Journal” an influence, as well as a property.

The observation not unfrequently made, that “The Journal” made Mr. Cauchon, is, we think, deficient in accuracy, for we incline to the opinion that had he never controlled that newspaper, Mr. Cauchon would have been a power in the state. Indeed newspaper journalism has its serious drawbacks as well as its manifest advantages for those who aspire to political influence. The question is by no means determined whether, all things considered, the position of a public man is or is not improved by reason of his connection with the public press. Certainly the school of newspaper journalism is not the best school for the education of statesmen; for it appears to be a condition of success that an American or Canadian newspaper should not only express the sentiments and influence the aims of a party, which is fair and right enough, but that it should be required to do so in an unhealthy way. Thus it is to be observed that professional journalists, in their anxiety to stimulate their writings and supply a sting to their periods, are too apt to disregard the restraints and courtesies which they would elsewhere, and under other circumstances, scrupulously observe. They too often write as if society had lost its civilization; as if all opinion was unworthy of respect which was not coated with the particular colour it is their pleasure to affect, or shaped according to the particular pattern it is their taste to prescribe. The science of Government, the philosophy of politics, the connection of thought with education and of both with race and origin, if discussed at all, are too frequently discussed in tones of exasperation, really as foreign to good breeding as they are to fair controversy. It is true, indeed, that the public has acquired a certain liking for the style; for its intellectual palate has, in some measure, become reconciled to its literary food. People appear to like what is strong, and to relish what is spicy; and therefore it may be said that the purveyors of literature cater for what the consumers of literature appreciate. The question is not without importance in its relation to the public; but it is not in this aspect we are required to view it. Our doubt relates to the writers themselves, and to the influence which an exaggerated and distorted style of thought and expression is apt to exert on the minds of those who practice them. Is an atmosphere of suspicion a healthy atmosphere to dwell in? Is the habit of invective a wholesome habit to practice? Do such a condition and such a habit increase the qualifications of those who aspire to the grave, calm, judicial duties of statesmanship? Practically they may be stepping-stones to influence, but positively they are passports to enmities; and it is sometimes found in the season of trial that the latter are strong enough to destroy the former. Thus the journalist discovers that though he can influence general opinion, he cannot attract personal support. By the very force of his intellect he has attained to power, and yet by the very quality of his intellect he has missed popularity. The truth is that the statesman-journalist is always speaking. His utterances may be parliamentary, within the walls of the senate, or they may be extra-parliamentary, through the columns of his newspaper. He is always on his actual or on his literary legs. As a matter of necessity, therefore, he speaks too much; and since people will unfortunately confound what he says with what he writes, his temper is sorely tried by his being required in person to justify both kinds of speech. A newspaper may help its proprietor to power, but it will also do much to embarrass him when in power. A gentleman who possesses ability sufficient to establish a newspaper like “The Journal,” may be fairly supposed to have ability sufficient to establish himself apart from such accessory. If this view be conceded, it is possible that the accessory may become a source rather of weakness than of strength.

To return from what, perhaps, may be regarded as a digression. Subjects of a grave constitutional character almost immediately engaged the attention of the young editor. The resignation of Mr. Sullivan’s administration, in the autumn of 1843, was followed by the crisis, which lasted during the continuance of Lord Metcalfe’s rule. Mr. Cauchon, who had in the year 1844 been returned for the County of Montmorency, strongly supported the view taken by Sir Louis Lafontaine on that memorable occasion, and as strongly censured the course which the late Mr. Viger felt himself to be called upon to take. The strife lasted until March, 1848, when the Lafontaine-Baldwin administration was formed.

It has been observed elsewhere, that Sir Louis Lafontaine preferred Mr. Baldwin’s simple remedy for Canadian misrule to Mr. Papineau’s more elaborate, but less manageable, schemes of redress. The resolutions which, by their adoption, established the fact of ministerial responsibility to Parliament, were considered to be, and they were, of infinitely more value than Mr. Papineau’s famous ninety-two Resolutions. The Elections of 1848 resulted in the signal triumph of the party which afterwards supported the Lafontaine-Baldwin Government, and which supported, therefore, the principles by which they were governed. It was, however, noticed that among the members returned there was one whose name in other days was a talisman. People were curious to observe how this chief of a by-gone period would confront the new events; how he, the Honorable Louis Joseph Papineau, the great leader in the past, would follow one who had once followed him. It was, moreover, very soon apparent that the people of Lower Canada and their old oracle had studied political philosophy in different schools, and that the sea of troubles which parted them in 1837-38 was, in truth, a sea of irreconcilable separation. Mr. Papineau, flushed with the victories of the past, issued his manifesto to the electors of St. Maurice; Mr. Cauchon, confident in the possessions of the present, issued his counter manifesto to the electors of Lower Canada, and the effect which the latter produced on the French Canadian population is not forgotten even at this day. Mr. Papineau was not likely to overlook the audacity of Mr. Cauchon. Some may recollect with what violent invective the former, in 1849, attacked the latter. They may also remember with what unabashed courage the latter repelled the attack. This passage of arms between the veteran leader and the young member enabled the House of Assembly to see the quality of the new metal and estimate the value of the old. With some approach to accuracy, they assayed the political worth of both. The examination, we believe, resulted, for the time being, in the bestowal of the guerdon to the younger combatant.

During the same Session an effort was made by Mr. Papineau and two other members, in the alleged interest of Lower Canada, to quash the condition of the Union Act, which assigned to the two Provinces, irrespective of population, an equal number of representatives. Those resolutions declared, that representation should have been based on population, and that a disregard of that condition was curiously enough represented to be “contrary to justice and the rights of British subjects.” It is true the resolutions in question received the support of three members only, but one of those was Mr. Papineau. The occasion gave Mr. Cauchon the opportunity of showing that population as a basis of representation formed no part of the Union Act. On the contrary, that the Act in question provided for sectional and not for personal equality, and he for one was content to stand by the law. It was thus Mr. Cauchon spoke against those who, in the supposed interest of Lower Canada, when the population of that Province preponderated, sought to disturb the balance struck by the Union Act. From the same stand point he has subsequently resisted those who, in the interest of Upper Canada, when the population of that Province preponderated, have sought to disturb that balance.

The occurrences which preceded the violent European agitation in 1848 were to a limited extent followed by corresponding results in Canada. The economical and industrial questions which agitated England; the social and political ones which disturbed France, repeated themselves in this Province. The commercial community was excited by the former, and all Eastern Canada was moved by the latter. The free traders triumphed in England and lo! an active and intelligent band of free traders sprang to their feet in Canada. The democracy of France awoke from its slumber and suddenly possessed itself of the accumulated strength of years, for with the might of a giant refreshed it nerved its gaunt arms and flung around its form a mantle of mischievous fascination. Popular right was arrayed against Divine right. What was termed the majesty of mind supplanted the majesty of birth, and an affrighted Sovereign was succeeded by a coterie of savants. This curious passage in modern history possessed attractions for the visionary class all over the world. Canada like other countries possessed its dreamers, for there are Utopians here as well as elsewhere. Thus it was, that certain aspirants to human perfection, well meaning enthusiasts, set themselves to work to put everybody and everything in a state of moral and political repair; for Canada, like France, was under their manipulation to become little less than the glory of all lands. The social flurry, in its purely French form, speedily passed away, but the consequences remained even after the causes out of which they rose had vanished. Before the union of the Provinces, there had been political sections in Lower Canada. There now arose political parties. Formerly the sections were separated by interests, now the parties are separated by principles. These parties, under the convenient, though not very comprehensive names of rouge and bleu, remain to the present day. It is, moreover, probable that the influence of European thought hastened those new political combinations in Canada, which speedily took substantial shapes. The venerable Mr. Viger in 1844, it may be, saw dimly, what the subject of our sketch in 1848, saw plainly, that a conservative habit of thought is peculiar to all races, and common to all tribes. Though differing in name, it is identical in character, for it springs from the like root. Mr. Caron questioned Mr. Viger’s wisdom, and Mr. Draper was embarrassed by his weakness; but neither of those acute politicians expressed any aversion to the sympathetic conservatism which he felt, and which the alliances he projected were calculated to bring about. The fusion failed, not because the projectors disliked one another’s company or doubted one another’s theory of political affinities, but because the plan was embarrassed by what was stigmatized as a violation of constitutional usage. We have not space to state particulars, and only allude to them, because of the important part which Mr. Cauchon took in bringing about those combinations which were initiated by the coalition of 1854, and which, since that day, have had the effect of separating politicians in Lower Canada, by very broad and distinguishing lines. There remained, however, to be accounted for, and still remains in Lower Canada, a very considerable intermediate party, which for personal respectability, social status, and independent thought, must and does exert noteworthy influence in the state. Without flying either of the above colors, or attaching itself to either of the parties which they are supposed to represent, this party appropriates to its own use some of the best qualities of both, and on occasion gives its support to either. Though perhaps not considerable in number, it is highly esteemed and assiduously courted, and like the “Peel” section in England its influence is perceptible, even when its power is denied. The Lower Canada section of the Sandfield Macdonald-Sicotte administration may be mentioned as representing this party. Though neither radicals nor conservatives, they are easily recognized, and did we possess a Canadian counterpart for an English term we should indicate this intermediate party by the old “blue and buff” name of “whig.”

Before the consummation at which many persons aimed could be brought about, other important changes were to take place. Sir Louis Lafontaine and Mr. Baldwin retired from Parliament in 1851, and were succeeded in the Government by Mr. Hincks and Mr. Morin. The vote in the Court of Chancery Bill, which disturbed Mr. Baldwin in 1850, and subsequently forced him out of office, imposed new duties on his successor. Mr. Hincks was required to appease the extreme reform party of Western Canada, and to do so he was constrained to include in his administration gentlemen whose principles, besides being an exaggeration of his own opinions, were exceedingly obnoxious to the subject of our sketch. Finding Mr. Cauchon exceedingly troublesome, Mr. Hincks, in the year 1851, sought to silence him with subsidy, and to this end offered him the post of Assistant Secretary, with a seat in Parliament, though not in the Cabinet. The offer was declined, and the subject became the text of an animated discussion between Mr. Hincks and Mr. Cauchon. At the general election which followed the abrupt dissolution of Parliament in June, 1854, Mr. Hincks used every means in his power to keep Mr. Cauchon out of Parliament, but he found the constituency of the latter stronger than his aversion, for Mr. Cauchon was again triumphantly returned. The latter continued with unabated vigor to oppose the Western section of the Government, nor did he relax his exertions until it was overthrown in September, 1854. The coalition Government which succeeded was very acceptable to Mr. Cauchon, not because he admires coalitions, but because it foreshadowed the alliance of the conservative elements of the Upper and Lower Canada populations. Such an alliance he had ardently advocated, and had earnestly striven to bring about. The first measures of the new Government were very important ones. Mr. Cauchon took a very active part in the discussions of the Seigniorial and Clergy Reserve Bills, and contributed not a little, both in and out of Parliament, to the final settlement of those great questions.

In January, 1855, on the preferment of the Honorable Mr. Morin to the Bench, Mr. Cauchon became a member of the Administration, by accepting the office of Commissioner of Crown Lands. In the month of March following, he introduced and carried through the Legislative Assembly the gravely important Bill for rendering the Legislative Council elective. He continued in office until April, 1857, when a difference of opinion arising between himself and his colleagues on the subject of the North Shore Railway, he withdrew from the Government. We are not acquainted with the precise issue which was raised on the occasion, nor is this work a fitting place to discuss its merits. The transaction acutely affected the subject of our sketch, and led to his temporary estrangement from his late colleagues. The disagreement produced no permanent change in Mr. Cauchon’s political principles, although it exerted for a time a marked influence in his personal relations. Thus, he who was and is regarded as a strong party-man, appeared suddenly to cross the House and take his place with the opposition. He was, moreover, courted by, and frequently voted with, his new associates; for the law of retaliation is not ruled by principles of exact logic. Taking counsel of his feelings rather than of his judgment, Mr. Cauchon perhaps thought it excusable to withdraw his confidence from those whom he fancied had withdrawn their confidence from him. Thus, during his state of antagonism with respect to his old friends, and of alliance with his new ones, the transactions occurred which have marked, but not with white chalk, the five days in July and August, 1858. In the course of the negociations which preceded the formation of the short-lived Brown-Dorion administration, Mr. Brown paid Mr. Cauchon the compliment of consulting him with respect to some of the arrangements. We do not know, and if we did, we should not communicate, what transpired at those interviews. The circumstance is only referred to as illustrative of the depth of Mr. Cauchon’s mortification with, and of his estrangement from, his late colleagues, and not of his affection for, or confidence in, his new friends. His state of political isolation was not without advantage, for it enabled him to give one vote to which we think he may turn with approval. On the 2nd August, 1858, in amendment to Mr. Bureau’s motion, “That Mr. Speaker do issue his warrant to the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery to make out a new writ, &c.,” Mr. Langevin moved “That this House, while ordering the issue of this writ, feel it their duty to declare that the administration, the formation of which has created this vacancy, does not possess the confidence of this House and of the Country.” The circumstances under which the motion was made were so peculiar, so unprecedented, and altogether so embarrassing, and the debate thereon so passionate and bewildering, that the venerable Mr. Merritt, who was probably at that time the oldest member of the House, and a gentleman of great moderation, moved “That the Debate be adjourned until to-morrow.” The motion was lost, but in the list of “yeas” is to be seen the name of the Honorable Joseph Cauchon. The amended motion for delay being resolved in the negative, the subject of our sketch appears to have withdrawn, when the division on the main question was taken. Bearing in mind the fact that the Legislative Assembly may be said to have been then sitting as a judicial tribunal, charged with nothing less than the trial of an administration, and under circumstances, too, without parallel in our history, Mr. Cauchon may felicitate himself that at such a time he voted for delay.

In the month of June, 1861, Mr. Cauchon accepted the office of Chief Commissioner of Public Works, which office he continued to fill until the defeat of the Cartier-Macdonald administration in the month of May, 1862. At the General Election, which took place in the following year, great efforts were made to secure his defeat. Mr. Tourangeau, the then Mayor of Quebec, was selected to contest the County against Mr. Cauchon. The defeat of the former was signal and complete. If a Nemesis did not pursue the defeated, she at all events seemed to befriend the victorious candidate; for two years afterwards, by a unanimous vote of his fellow-citizens, Mr. Cauchon was elected to succeed Mr. Tourangeau as Mayor of Quebec.

On the formation of the Taché-Macdonald Administration in 1864, Sir Etienne is reported to have offered Mr. Cauchon a portfolio, with a seat in the Cabinet. This offer, for reasons of a public rather than of a personal kind, Mr. Cauchon thought fit to decline. His refusal to take office, as is usually the case, became in the estimation of many people a reason why he should accept it. Perhaps at no period of Mr. Cauchon’s career has he been considered more qualified to render the state service than when, in obedience to a sense of public duty, he declined the responsibility of doing so. The honor, he may fairly presume, is only postponed; for the offer will be repeated some day and appropriated too. The act of acceptance will lose none of its grace by reason of the self-denial which has occasioned delay. Patience is one of many virtues which statecraft employs. Mr. Cauchon is to be congratulated on his ability to practice this virtue, for it belongs to the passive family, and it is not germane to his impetuous character. But patience is a policy as well as a virtue. It is therefore probable that Mr. Cauchon, who knows himself, may see history in analogy, and may therefore choose to wait till his native country becomes as eager as was his native city to appropriate his services. He may look forward to a day when the Province of Canada will welcome him as a Minister with as much enthusiasm as the population of Quebec welcomed him as their Mayor.

The history which preceded Mr. Cauchon’s nomination to the Office of Mayor of Quebec was amusing as well as instructive. It would seem that the act of incorporation was defective, and that municipal affairs were so ill managed that people who had any respect for the credit of the city were involuntarily constrained to cry “shame.” Matters arrived at such a pass that the subject of our sketch seriously urged all whom it might concern to take every proper means of bringing about a suspension of that Act under which the city was incorporated, and of imposing the duties which that Act prescribed on commissioners to be nominated for that purpose. The evils were not, we believe, exaggerated, nor were the animadversions misapplied. Still, though there was truth in the reproof and honesty in the reprover, neither were for the moment well received. The result was amusing, for the corporation which had felt itself aggrieved by the attack, did itself the honor and their censor the justice of supporting the populace, which, by acclamation, elected Mr. Cauchon to the office of Mayor.

Mr. Cauchon, as we have said, excused himself from accepting office in the Taché-Macdonald administration; he, nevertheless, gave that administration, as well as the government which succeeded it, his unwavering and energetic support. The great questions which especially claimed consideration had received from him a degree of research which might occasion surprise, had we no knowledge of his power of application, and of his ravenous appetite for work. He delights in work. He never declines to examine a problem because it may be craggy or obscure. Thus, in 1852, he combatted with unflagging zeal the arguments of those who sought to bring about a confederation of the Provinces, irrespective of the considerations which, in his opinion, should be inseparably associated with the scheme. Mr. Cauchon desires not only that local interests should be duly considered but that guarantees should be afforded that the Confederacy shall rest on a monarchical and not a republican foundation; and thus possess the conditions of stability and permanence, of justice and order. In 1865, the plan agreed on by the Quebec delegates in 1864, was officially communicated; and it received from the subject of our sketch, his determined and eloquent support. In and out of Parliament he has persistently labored to inform and prepare his countrymen for a political change, which they had been accustomed to regard with much disfavor. Had Mr. Cauchon been a member of the administration, he could not have served the state more effectually than he did by the outside support which he gave the Government on that important question.

Mr. Cauchon’s general information includes also a very exact amount of personal knowledge. He is aware of the strong as well as of the weak points of his character. “Time the teacher” has added much to his acquaintance with the former, and the discipline of wisdom is very perceptibly effacing the drawbacks of the latter. Example and experience, knowledge and observation, are not mere idlers of the brain. They move dull minds, and they control active ones. In either case they influence conduct, and inform men how to act as well as how to think. Besides an indomitable will, Mr. Cauchon possesses great individuality of character; determination which no opposition can intimidate; industry which no labor can exhaust, and perseverance which no discouragement can appal. He moves vehemently, as well as persistently, towards the point he wishes to arrive at. Such movement, moreover, appears to be impelled by the unrestrained despotism of his thoughts; thoughts which know neither friend nor counsellor outside of the fervid brain in which they are generated. The matter of his speech harmonizes with its temperature. He rarely persuades; he seeks rather to destroy than to convince; to expose the weakness of his adversary’s argument rather than exhibit the strength of his own. He does not resort to sophistry, being careful only to assert truth, or what he believes to be truth. He conciliates by accident, while he controls by habit. Force is his normal condition, and intellectual activity is the life of that condition. He delights in mental gymnastics, and enters with zest, and from sheer love of the exercise, into the arena of controversy. Though he lacks the flexible qualities which go far towards making a leader popular, he possesses the forcible ones which make an ally valuable. He is a powerful associate, and a dangerous opponent. His character and practice are not inaptly expressed in a tolerably well-known epigram. But the process prescribed in the epigram is not without hazard. In the heat of debate a flower may be mistaken for a nettle, or a “reserved” interpreted as a “common” nature. In such cases the “grasp” and the “grater” would be sadly misapplied.

“Tender-handed stroke a nettle,

   And it stings you for your pains;

 Grasp it as a man of mettle,

   And it soft as silk remains.

 ’Tis the same with common natures,

   Use them kindly, they rebel;

 But be rough as nutmeg graters,

   And the rogues obey your will.”

A strong will is only one phase of a strong character. It is commonly associated with strong feelings and strong emotions, strong affections and strong resentments. The sense of gratitude, for example, in Mr. Cauchon’s nature seems to be as controlling as is his sense of resentment. If the occasion justifies the allusion, the listener is touched by the tender and reverential tones in which he speaks of those who watched his youth and inclined his mind to thought. It is his practice to mention, with almost filial tenderness, the honored names of Jerome Demers, and of Louis Jacques Casault, who, the metaphor is Mr. Cauchon’s, “broke for him the bread of science.” “The bread of science!” It may be well to remember that such bread is not broken equally to all, or possessed equally by all. To the subject of our sketch it may have been given with an open and an affluent hand, but to many with whom he is brought into contact it has been bestowed with pinched and grudging fingers. The inequalities of such possessions should make the rich man tolerant, as well as charitable. Arrogance of wealth, no matter whether that wealth be material or intellectual, is at best a weakness; it may be a crime, and it must be a hurt. None should be impatient towards the “poor destitute,” no matter whether his need springs from the lack of “daily bread,” or from the lack of that “bread of science,” which Mr. Cauchon has eulogized so feelingly, and loves so well.

“Knowledge is proud that he has learnt so much;

 Wisdom is humble that she knows no more.”


“The purest treasure mortal times afford

Is spotless reputation; that away,

Men are but gilded loam or painted clay.”

Were any one inclined to write a history of “The Civil Procedure” in the District of Montreal for the last half century, he could scarcely find a more appropriate text than the gentleman whose likeness looks at us from the opposite page; for his career as Prothonotary of the Court of Queen’s Bench began with his appointment to that office in 1815, and ended with his death, in 1865.

An official life of exact duty and continuous service is not generally seamed with excitement. Nor is it desirable that it should be so; for even work is best performed by even minds. Lives of pure purpose and single aim are necessarily ruled by high principle. Time pays homage to such lives. He makes his visits gently, and seems to hold his hand lest he should too roughly touch “locks once comely in a virgin’s sight,” or mark with unwelcome tracery a brow whereon care had written no wrinkles. It is very charming to meet with well-preserved official people, of the old polished type, who flourished when time was younger. The specimens are yearly becoming scarcer. They are passing rapidly from the region of observation to the realms of memory. Some fossilized forms remain to remind us, even amidst the stillness and decay of nature, of the old manners which we are losing, and of the old fashions which are gradually dying out.

In the march of fifty years, young law students became old lawyers. Counsel in staff robes behind the bar became counsel in silk robes before the bar; and then ascending step by step in the path of fame, many of them presided with dignity in the Court, where they had pleaded with eloquence. Generations of lawyers, generations of counsel, generations of judges rose from honor to honor until the measure of their service being full, they were no longer spoken of in the present but in the past tense, and the place which once knew their persons remembered only the wit that sparkled in their speech, or the learning which was associated with their names.

But amidst change and succession one person in that Court remained almost unchangeable. For fifty years the courtly Prothonotary, in his robes of office, was, at the accustomed periods, seen in his accustomed place, mindful alike of the duty to be done and of the manner of doing it. Thus he appeared to possess perennial properties; for in a community where all else was changing, he remained almost unchangeable; the graceful representative of two generations; an object of personal admiration and an example of official integrity.

Samuel Wentworth Monk was remotely, as well as immediately, descended from progenitors of mark and consideration in England and America. His early ancestors resided in Devonshire, the County where the great Duke of Albermarle was born, and where other members of the Monk family had lived. The subject of our sketch was born at Windsor, Nova Scotia, on the 3rd May, 1792. He was the third son of Major Monk, a gallant royalist, who had followed without faltering the fortunes of his flag. On the establishment of the independence of the United States, the Major settled, with his wife, Elizabeth Gould Wentworth, in the more hospitable though less attractive portion of America; where he could, without challenge, caress his cherished opinions, and reverently pray for the Sovereign in whose service he had fought, and live under the flag in whose honor he had been willing to die. His son, the subject of our sketch, was admitted to the bar of Nova Scotia, in 1813. Almost immediately afterwards he left the Province for Canada, where, in 1815, through the influence of his uncle, Sir James Monk, he was appointed Prothonotary of the Court of King’s Bench.

The even course of official duty appears to have been interrupted on one occasion only, and the circumstances which led to that interruption are sufficiently noteworthy to have a place in these pages. In those curious old times the estates of the Province appeared to understand one another very indifferently, for their condition was one of chronic antagonism. Indeed their disposition to live in hot water was so controlling, that we look in vain for any evidence of harmony, much less of concord. The public servants in those days of contradiction found it to be in the highest degree difficult to determine the true course of their duty, for the chart was by no means clear. At the present time, for example, no one in the service of Parliament may, without the previous permission of the House in whose service he is, attend and give evidence before the House in whose service he is not. By a parity of reasoning, it may be presumed that an officer of the Executive Government, in the absence of the permission of the head of the Government, possessed no more personal liberty than an officer of Parliament. Without the permission of the head of the Government, he had no authority to obey the summons of either House of Parliament. Yet, in the presence of the force either House when in session could exert, he could not help obeying. Such officer might, if he felt so inclined, sacrifice himself to what he chose to regard as his sense of duty. Force might drag him to the bar of the Assembly, but no force would compel him to give evidence on his arrival there. This seems to have been the difficulty in the present instance, as the following extracts from the journals of the House of Assembly of Lower Canada will more fully explain:

Wednesday, 19th February, 1817.

Resolved,—That Samuel Wentworth Monk, one of the Joint Prothonotaries of the Court of King’s Bench for the District of Montreal, has refused to exhibit certain Records in his possession at Quebec, which he was ordered to produce by the Special Committee appointed to investigate the charges against Lewis Charles Foucher, Esq.

Resolved,—That the said Samuel Wentworth Monk has thereby been guilty of a contempt of this House, and a violation of its privileges.

Resolved,—That the said Samuel Wentworth Monk be taken into the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms attending this House, or one of his Deputies, and that Mr. Speaker do issue his warrant accordingly.

Friday, 21st February, 1817.

The Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms attending this House reported at the Bar, that in conformity to the order of this House of the nineteenth instant, Samuel Wentworth Monk, Esq., Joint Prothonotary of the Court of King’s Bench of Montreal, had been taken into custody, and was at the door waiting the orders of the House.

Ordered,—That Samuel Wentworth Monk, Esq., now in the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms attending this House, for contempt and a breach of the privileges of this House, for said offence be committed to the common gaol of this District, and that the Speaker do issue his warrant accordingly.

Saturday, 22nd February, 1817.

Mr. Speaker stated to the House as followeth:

That he had this morning, in obedience to the commands of the House, signed the Warrant for the commitment of Samuel Wentworth Monk, Esq., to the common gaol of the District of Quebec.

After which,

The Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms at the Bar, acquainted the House, that in obedience to its commands, he had lodged the body of Samuel Wentworth Monk, one of the Joint Prothonotaries of the Court of King’s Bench for the District of Montreal, in the common gaol of the District of Quebec, and that he now holds the gaoler’s receipt for the body of the said Samuel Wentworth Monk.

Mr. Monk did not relish his commitment to the common gaol; nor did he approve of the personal degradation which the proceeding involved. He therefore prepared a petition which, at his request, Mr. Ogden, a member of the Assembly, presented to that House. The Petitioner, having stated his case, concluded by praying to be heard at the bar, with a view to his speedy liberation. This proceeding on his part did not conciliate members. On the contrary, it was for some unexplained reason regarded as an aggravation of his offence, and it was answered by an order of the House to extend the term of his imprisonment to the end of the Session. This treatment, whether constitutional or otherwise, did not exert a soothing influence on the prisoner. Indeed it was scarcely calculated to do so. Mr. Monk, therefore, meditated plans of retaliation and reprisal. On his liberation from gaol, he lost no time in submitting his wrongs to the opinion of counsel, and of invoking the power of the civil tribunals, to redress those wrongs, and punish the persons whom he regarded as the representatives of the wrong doers. What he did will be better understood by reading the following entries, which we extract from the journals of the House of Assembly of the year 1818:

28th January, 1818.

Mr. Speaker acquainted the House, that having, in obedience to its orders, caused to be apprehended and imprisoned Samuel Wentworth Monk, during the last Session of the Provincial Parliament, this gentleman was enlarged at the prorogation of the Parliament, and caused him, as also the Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms and the keeper of the common gaol of this District, to be summoned to appear on the first day of April now last past, in the Court of King’s Bench for this District, to make answer to an action of damages, instituted by him, on account of a certain alleged false imprisonment, as appears by the copies of the Writ of Summons and Declaration, which, with the leave of the House, he shall submit to its consideration.

This suit having been instituted after the prorogation of Parliament, it has been out of his power to take the orders of this House. Governing himself by the instances which appeared to him analogous, and were pointed out in the journals of the Commons of Great Britain, he employed advocates at the Bar of Quebec, who fyled an appearance for the Defendants, and are to file their pleas on the first day of February next.

He awaits the orders of the House, as to such further proceedings as it seems expedient to adopt.

On motion of Mr. Taschereau, seconded by Mr. Cuvillier:

Resolved,—That the papers laid before this House by Mr. Speaker, and his communication on that subject, be referred to a Special Committee of seven members, to examine the subject matter thereof, and report the rules, usages, and customs of the Imperial Parliament in like cases.

Ordered,—That Mr. Taschereau, Mr. Viger, Mr. Gugy, Mr. Borgia, Mr. A. Stuart, Mr. Cuvillier, and Mr. McCord, do compose the said Committee.

A very elaborate, and amusing report was the result of the reference. The Committee sought, by carefully collated evidence, and references to precedents in England, as well as in some of the Colonies, to vindicate, the proceedings of the Assembly. This report was not referred for consideration, it was simply ordered to lie on the table.

A few days afterwards the following resolution was adopted:

24th March, 1818.

On motion of Mr. Taschereau, seconded by Mr. Huot;

Resolved,—That Mr. Speaker and the Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms be permitted to plead to the action of S. W. Monk against them.

Resolved,—That the Attorney General be directed to defend Mr. Speaker and the Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms against the said action.

The case involved one of those grave and inconvenient constitutional issues which statesmen are much more anxious to avoid than provoke. The balance of power among the estates of the realm ought not to be a fiction. Whether it is so or not is a discovery which should be left to those who, in the spirit of mischievous curiosity would disturb, not to those who, moved by the considerations of wisdom, would maintain the accuracy of the balance.

The circumstances we have referred to were the only events of a public nature which seriously ruffled the even current of Mr. Monk’s official life. His days succeeded one another, like the serene days of the Indian summer time, neither bright nor dark, but uniform in their temperature and soft in their colouring. The speech which one day uttered to another day was strangely similar, for order and discipline, exact duty, and similar occupation marked them all. There was probably the usual difference in the speed with which they appeared to hasten onwards; for

Slow pass our days in childhood; every day

Seems like a century; rapidly they glide

In manhood; and in life’s decline they fly.

But before the ending, before the Prothonotary’s life was “rounded with a sleep,” before his large, kind, generous heart was hushed to rest, his professional and other friends, represented by the bar of Montreal, desired to present him with some mark of their regard which should help to remind him of them, and them of him. To this end they instructed an artist to paint two portraits of Mr. Monk, one of which was to be given to him, and the other was to be placed in the library of the Court House, and to become the property of the Law Society. Their desire to preserve in some unfading form the lineaments of their official friend was a very commendable desire. It was consistent with good taste that the portrait of one on whose “unembarrassed brow” “nature had written gentleman,” should be transmitted to posterity, as well as remembered by contemporaries. It was a happy conceit to retain in the Court House his shadow who for fifty years was an ornament of the Court. It was an equally happy thought to present a likeness to the original, to be preserved as an heir-loom in his family. The double testimony represented opinions on the part of the donors that Mr. Monk was, in private and public, worthy of all honor; alike deserving of the loving reverence of his relatives, as of the affectionate regard of his friends. He died at Montreal on the 13th March, 1865, loved by many and lamented by all.

If solid happiness we prize

Within our breast the jewel lies,

    And they are fools who roam;

The world, has nothing to bestow;

From our own selves our joys must flow,

    And that dear hut our home.


Mis-spelled words and printer errors have been fixed.

Inconsistency in hyphenation has been retained.

Inconsistency in accents has been retained.

Quoting, nested quoting, and quoting in various letters and quotations was somewhat erratic. They have been fixed when the error was obvious, but mostly left unchanged.

Some photographs have been enhanced to be more legible.

[The end of Portraits of British Americans (1865-68) Volume 1 of 3 by Fennings Taylor]