« PreviousContinue »
definitively, I don't by any means intend to be out of public life, ' and will work for the ascendancy of my friends, federal and local, “as cordially and enthusiastically as ever ; indeed, far more so, as I “shall be entirely free from official responsibility.” Two years later there was an opportunity afforded of obtaining a seat in the Commons. In response to an inquiry whether he would allow his name to be used, he wrote: “I have in no manner changed the views I expressed to "you on a former occasion ; I have not the slightest desire or inten“tion of re-entering, parliamentary life, and nothing but the most “imperative party necessity would induce me to do so." No further effort was made to induce him to change his views and re-enter parliament. Nor did he ever in after years attempt to control or influence parliamentary proceedings as conducted by the liberals in opposition, or in the government:; while always willing to give his opinion when asked on any particular question, he never volunteered his advice. His opinions of course received free utterance in the Globe, which was more unfettered by reason of his absence from parliamentary leadership, though even there it was rare indeed that any articles were published which were calculated to inconvenience or discomfort those who occupied his former position.
In farming generally he took great delight ; no recreation was to him equal to a ramble over his magnificent farm, examining the crops and animals. The cultivation of high bred stock was to him a novel undertaking, lacking, as he necessarily was, in the knowledge of the breeds of animals, and the excellences of each class or family. This knowledge he soon acquired by his perseverance. The steadily improving character of the farm at Bow Park and the stock of all kinds, yave abundant evidence of the intimate knowledge the proprietor had of the science of farming. With all this, however, it took many years to bring his fine short-horn herd to perfection, and of course it involved a heavy expenditure which could only be very gradually realized again. The farm, which he commenced to operate more as a recreation than as a serious business, gradually developed into a very large undertaking, which it was evidently impossible for Mr. Brown to manage alone, considering the extent of other business engagements. This led to the formation, in 1875, of a joint stock company, under the auspices of which the business has since then been conducted, though Mr. Brown retained a large portion of the stock, and was president of the company until his death. No more enthusiastic farmer could be found in Canada. He was always delighted to meet farmers at Bow Park, and go over it with them to see all that could be seen; many availed themselves of the privilege of examining freely his system of farming and feeding, as well as the fine animals with which he had stocked the now famous farm at very great expense.
The minutiæ of scientific farming was doubtless more attended to at the government model farm, but farming on an extensive scale, and thorough-bred stock-raising, could only be seen at Bow Park. That this was a public benefit of a large character no one can doubt ; that it was not productive, in his time, of any adequate return to the enterprising projector, every one will regret. It is to be hoped, however, from recent appearances, that the company will now reap a golden harvest, as the result of embarking in an enterprise which has been so beneficial to Canada.
Mr. Brown, as the enthusiastic advocate of a political union of all the British American provinces and the consolidation of British power on the continent, was, very naturally, much pleased at the prospect of British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland joining the confederate provinces, and he worked hard, by correspondence and personal intercourse with public men, from the two latter provinces especially, to promote their accession to the union. On one occasion he had a long interview with two Newfoundland public men which pleased him much, as he considered all obstacles to the union practically removed; meeting the writer shortly afterwards, he asked, “What “is the public event desired that would give you most satisfaction at “the present time?" Not receiving an immediate reply, he asked if the complete consolidation of the confederacy, by the acquisition of Newfoundland at an early date, would not be the most pleasant event that could be looked for? On being answered that the pleasure would be qualified by the attendant conditions, he said scarcely any conditions could prevent him rejoicing over such a consummation. Similarly on another occasion, when some one suggested the expense of building the Intercolonial Railway as a serious condition to the union of the provinces, Mr. Brown replied that he would rather build six Intercolonial Railways than fail in the project. Of course this was only an exaggerated form of expression to convey his hearty advocacy of the new political movement. He fully believed that the time had come when political changes of some serious kind were inevitable; that concerted action from all the provinces in relation to colonial office management, and the foreign relations of the empire, where the North American colonies were chiefly or wholly concerned, would be difficult without a union of these provinces. He believed that the public men of the colonies were more likely to negotiate, under the Crown, in their own interests with certain foreign powers, and that the union of all the provinces would naturally carry with it an accession of power which could not be disregarded by any colonial secretary sitting in Downing Street, and therefore lessen the probabilities of any serious complications occurring between the imperial and colonial authorities. He, in common with all colonial statesmen who have had to arrange colonial business in
Downing Street, knew how incapable the average colonial secretary is to comprehend nice colonial questions, and how satisfied he is of the superiority of British ministers, even in matters where the colonist must necessarily be better informed. The North American colonies had now reached a stage of maturity which forbade any administration of their affairs from the colonial office other than that involved in its being the channel of communication between the provinces and the supreme authority. Their consolidation into one dominion, with a federal constitution and central authority, would, in Mr. Brown's opinion, add to their importance, and relieve all anxiety at home as to the course of events on this continent. Mr. Brown, in his speech on the confederation project, after pointing out its effects on general industrial pursuits and political importance, said : “I ask any member “ of the House to say whether we will not, when thus united, occupy
a position in the eyes of the world, and command a degree of respect
and influence, that we never can enjoy as separate provinces ?... “I am persuaded that this union will inspire new confidence in our “stability
it will raise the value of our public securities, it “ will draw capital to our shores." His closing words in that memorable debate contained the following passage : “ The future destiny of “these great provinces may be affected by the decision we are about
' to give to an extent which, at this moment, we may be unable to "estimate ; but assuredly the welfare, for many years, of four mil
lions of people hangs on our decision. Shall we then rise equal to "the occasion ? Shall we approach this discussion without partisan
ship, and free from every personal feeling but the earnest resolution to discharge conscientiously the duty which an overruling Providence “has placed upon us? It may be that some among us will live to see “the day when, as the result of this measure, a great and powerful
people may have grown up in these lands—when the boundless “ forests shall have given way to smiling fields and thriving towns" and when one united government under the British flay shall extend “ from shore to shore."
Mr. Brown himself lived to see the day he longed for. He saw the work of union all but fully accomplished; only one colony, and that one the least important, choosing to maintain its isolated position. This was a measure of success which he scarcely ventured to hope for in 1864, when it seemed probable that federal relations would be established at first only between Upper and Lower Canada. It might be said that he was too enthusiastic in his anticipations of benefits from the new system. He had, however, an abiding faith in the capacity of the Canadian people for self-government, and, in common with political thinkers, he knew that union meant an increase of moral strength, and believed that the measure of success was prospectively greatly increased by the hearty adherence of all the provinces.
LETTER TO THE ROMAN CATHOLIC COMMITTEE.
Early in 1871 Mr. Brown had some correspondence with prominent Roman Catholics in relation to their position politically in the province of Ontario. The controversies respecting separate schools and ecclesiastical corporations had resulted in a serious secession of Roman Catholics from the ranks of the reform party. Now that these matters of difference were all removed by the new constitution, many of both sides were desirous of reaching an understanding. The following letter was published on the 9th' March, 1871, in response to a paper laid before Mr. Brown by the Roman Catholic committee to whom it was addressed : To John O'Donohue, Patrick Hughes, J. D. Merrick, anil Thomas Me:
Crosson, Esquires, a Committee acting on behalf of a Meeting of Prominent Catholics from all Sections of Ontario. GENTLEMEN, -I have read with care the paper you have been good enough“to place in my hands, with the request that I should reply to it in writing.
I am in no manner entitled to speak officially for the , reförmers of Ontario. At the convention of 1867 I voluntarily resigned the leadership of that party, and have not since then taken any action in that capacity. Mr. Alexander Mackenzie is now leader of the liberal party from Ontario in the House of Commons, and Mr Edward Blake is leader in the Ontario Assembly ; they have my most cordial confidence and support, and to them I refer you for an official answer to your questions.
I explained tliis verbally to you when you did me the honour to call upon me, but you still thought it desirable to have a reply from me, as one who took a prominent part in the agitation which in past years separated the great mass of the Roman Catholic body from the liberal ranks, and who has reliable personal knowledge of the feelings and sentiments of the reformers of Ontario. From this stand-point I have no objection to answer your queries. Indeed, I am glad you have given me an opportunity of doing so, and at the same time of vindicating the policy which the party 1 had so long the privilege of leading in parliament felt it their duty to inaugurate, and carried to a successful termination.
In what I shall say I trust no offence will be taken if I speak frankly and plainly as to matters of past history and the present situation. The action you and your co-religionists now take may affect most materially the future stability and prosperity of our young Dominion; and it would be but petty statesmanship to conceal from ourselves either the prejudices that have been created in the past, or the principles of justice and equality on which alone a lasting reunion of all sections of the liberal party can be formed.
Will you pardon me for making another preliminary observation. I am sure you did not mean to convey that it was either possible or desirabie
that the whole catholic vote of Ontario could be transferred to one political party. God, for His own wise purposes, has created us of different minds, so that, with equal intelligence and equal honesty of purpose, different men will come to totally different conclusions from the same pre. mises ; and assuredly it would be most unwise and unjust to constrain catholics, or any others, to cast their votes in a manner contrary to their conscientious convictions. I quite understand that the entire scope of your present application is to enable you to lay before your catholic fellow-countrymen the principles and policy to be maintained by the liberal party of Ontario in the future, so that the large portion of them who hold reform principles, as contra-distinguished from conservative principles, may judge whether it is expedient for them to cast in their lot with the great liberal party.
In the early days of the political history of Upper Canada, the great mass of the Roman Catholics were earnest and reliable members of the reform party. They suffered from Downing Street rule, from family compactism, from a dominant Anglican church establishment, and from clergy reserves, rectories, and ecclesiastical disabilities, in common with the numerous protestant bodies who with them were insolently styled “dis. senters';" and they fought the battle of civil and religious liberty and equality side by side with their protestant fellow-reformers. And had Upper Canada remained as it then was, a separate province, they would, I doubt not, have fought the same battle up to the hour of its final triumph. The union of Upper and Lower Canada in 1841 was the commencement of a change. The French Canadian element then came into the political field and gave the catholics a position of dominance they had not previously held. From 1843 (when Mr. Baldwin as leader of the Upper Canada reformers formed a political alliance with Mr. Lafontaine as leader of the French Canadians), up to the year 1850, the protestant and catholic reformers continued to act together harmoniously. The Globe was the recognized organ of the party in Upper Canada, and I remember with pleasure the intelligent and cordial manner in which the Irish catholics through these years sustained all liberal and progressive measures. We were then fighting the battle for responsible government in opposition to Sir Charles Metcalfe and his conservative advisers--which was closed tri. umphantly in the winter of 1847-48 by a grand success at the polls, and the complete establishment of the great reform for which we had so long and so earnestly contended.
Messrs. Baldwin and Lafontaine came into office in March, 1848 ; the reform party was all-powerful in both houses of parliament: and the reformers of Upper Canada had the right to expect that the principles and measures they (protestant and catholic alike) had contended for, and been taught by their leaders to expect, would now be carried into full operation. The French Canadian members of the cabinet and their supporters in parliament blocked the way. Not only were reformers refused that which had been promised for years, but principles and measures were urged or endorsed by the reform government in direct hostility to the views and feelings of the reformers of Upper Canada. A large section of the liberal party becamed alarmed, and remonstrated ; but without effect. Indignation and estrangement followed. The French Canadians felt their power and used it relentlessly ; a section of the Upper Canada reformers went into opposition, while another section adhered to the government, and the party became thoroughly disorganized.
Need I remind you of what followed? Although much less numerous than the people of Upper Canada, and contributing to the common purse hardly a fourth of the annual revenue of the united provinces, the Lower Canadians sent an equal number of representatives with the Upper Canadians to parliament, and by their unity of action obtained complete dominancy in the management of public affairs. Acting on the well-known adage