Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

the reform candidates as before. The fact that many Roman Catholic countries held similar views was, of course, not without its weight in determining their course of action. On the other hand, it is not to be denied that deep offence was taken at many articles in the Globe and other papers by a large majority of the Roman Catholics, who did not come into personal contact with Mr. Brown personally, and appreciate his kindly and honest nature. Looking back, it is impossible to deny that many harsh words were written which had better not have been written ; but no one article ever appeared which bore the character of intolerance. No warmer advocate of equal rights ever lived than Mr. Brown proved himself to be, and, right or wrong, he believed he was writing in defence of religious equality during the period which that controversy covered. Unscrupulous politicians, of little or no standing as public men, for years filled their scrap-books with garbled extracts, torn from their context, and used them as electioneering weapons, mixing with these extracts much offensive matter which had never appeared in the Globe. When all other means failed in combating Mr. Brown and his friends in political contests, these forged passages were made to do duty, until the public were disgusted with the forgeries, as well as the resuscitation of statements and arguments which had no relation to new questions and a new state of political life. The bulk of the anti-Catholic element, and particularly the Orange society, was always violently opposed to Mr. Brown, though a very small section of the Orange party were politically agreed with him, and at some elections gave effective support. The mass of the Roman Catholics, on the other hand, had supported the liberals, and joined heartily in the long struggle for religious equality and parliamentary government.

There was therefore no reason why Mr. Brown should hate Roman Catholics, as he was represented to have done by parties who were interested in making such misrepresentations. Many of Mr. Brown's most devoted friends, in and out of parliament, were staunch Roman Catholics. During Mr. Brown's first parliamentary session the Rev. Mr. Gavazzi, a Roman Catholic priest who had refused to acknowledge the papal supremacy, made his appearance in Canada. Early in June he attempted to lecture in Chalmers' Free Church, Quebec. The church was assailed by a mob, the doors and windows were smashed in, and a portion of the rioters rushed in and attacked the lecturer in the pulpit. He succeeded, after a brief struggle, in effecting his escape uninjured. The mob then marched direct to the parliament buildings, apparently determined to reach Mr. Brown, even if they should attack the House for that purpose. He did not respond to their calls to come out, and they were finally persuaded by some of the members to disperse. This demonstration of the catholic element

against Mr. Brown was doubtless the outcome of the somewhat bitter controversy which had prevailed for some time respecting separate schools and religious corporations, in which discussion Mr. Brown had taken a very prominent part. He was designated by his opponents as the leader or head of a protestant political party, though in fact he had never advocated or favoured the formation of a political party based on religious distinctions. Indeed, it would have been entirely foreign to his conceptions of the constitution of political parties. His advocacy was incessant for a complete separation of church and state, so as to remove discussions on religious subjects from the domain of politics, and when this separation was completed in Canada these polemical discussions also ceased in political circles. As the editor-in-chief of a leading newspaper, it was manifestly impossible to wholly avoid subjects of discussion which involved the consideration of the church polity of several denominations in respect to matters affecting the general public. When Mr. Brown formed his cabinet in 1858 it was upon an agreement that the separate school question should be dealt with after a full inquiry should be made into the school systems in other countries, catholic and protestant; and there is no reason to doubt that, had his ministry been permitted to go on, means would have been found to harmonize the various views held by himself and his political associates. The Amended Separate School Act of 1863, and the immediately succeeding arrangement effected in the Confederation Act, removed this question from the field of controversy, but even before then nearly all irritation had ceased in Ontario, though it still continued in other provinces, where Mr. Brown had never pretended to possess any special influence, and where the separate school question was raised long after it was set at rest in old Canada.

Apart altogether from the questions at issue between Roman Catholics and protestants, Mr. Brown rendered great service to the country by his advocacy of a non-denominational system of education. There were not wanting signs of an attempt being made by some other churchmen to introduce the sectarian element in the management of our schools ; and an open effort was made to ruin Toronto University by the appropriation of its revenues to sustain sectarian colleges.

CHAPTER VI.

MR. BROWN ENTERS PARLIAMENT. -His RELATIONS TO THE

REFORM PARTY.

After Mr. Brown's defeat in Haldimand he received communications from several constituencies offering to procure his nomination ; amongst others the reformers of the then united counties of Kent and Lambton offered to nominate him in the interest of the wing of the liberal party to which he belonged, and with considerable difficulty induced him to accede to their request. Mr. Brown afterward wrote of the Haldimand contest as follows: “ Had I known that the battle “ of religious equality would have been fought, as it has been by “ Messrs. Mackenzie, Morrison and Notman, and you (Mr. Hincks) "and your colleagues brought to book as you have been, I never “would have put my foot in Haldimand as an aspirant for political " honours.” Mr. Brown was at this time generally supposed to be very anxious to get into parliament. It was not unnatural that this should be the case. He had much to do with the parliamentary work of the previous seven years. As the leading political writer on the reform side, he knew all that was passing in political life. He also knew that under existing leadership there was great danger that the liberal ranks would be shattered to pieces. He had every motive for entering parliament which could actuate a patriotic mind ; besides, it was natural that he should feel an honourable ambition urging him to accept a seat in the parliament of his country.

The truth was, however, that he was very reluctant to come forward as a candidate at this time. He was yet a young man; the Globe required all his time ; and he felt that he could accomplish more by zealously working, through his journal, on the public mind of the whole country, than hy conquering his opponents in one constituency. The following letter was written by him to the secretary of the Reform Association of Lambton, giving his views privately to that gentleman : [Private).

TORONTO, 13th Sept., 1851. MY DEAR SIR,-I am in receipt of your letter of 11th inst., and am very inuch indebted to you and my other friends for your kindness. I shall give you a frank answer to your question. There is no constituency I would feel so gratified to represent, were I in parliament, as Kent. I have many friends in it; it is a large rising county, capable of much improvement, and therefore a good field for an energetic representative ; and moreover, I own some seven or eight hundred acres of valuable land in it.

[ocr errors]

a

success.

But I am not anxious to go into parliament. I tried for Haldimand with the one object of settling, if I could, or at any rate pushing to test votes before the general election, the representation, reserves, rectory, sectarian schools, sectarian money grants, marriage and suffrage questions. This was, however, done by others, with so sorry a result as must have convinced all true friends of the cause that a hard battle has yet to be fought. Into that battle I shall throw myself with all my strength ; and there is reason to believe that the Globe is exercising considerable influence throughout the country in awaking the public mind to the importance of making the voluntary principle in all its length and breadth the great issue at the coming election. But while earnestly striving for the return of men of my own principles, I have refrained from offering for any county, and have left unimproved several opportunities presented to me, from the fear that my seeking personal advancement might hurt the cause I espouse, might weaken my testimony on behalf of great principles. Moreover, I have spent nearly two months this year already in an election contest; and having been long enough behind the scenes to lose all sublime ideas of parliamentary life, it needs all one's patriotism to think, without quailing, of a second contest and a three months' residence yearly at Quebec for four years, leaving business to take care of itself.

Notwithstanding all this, it would be a high honour to sit for Kent, and it would be a loud testimony in favour of the cause in which I am enlisted were the convention to give me the nomination without solicitation on my part. I fear I could not refuse such an offer were there a likelihood of

I am, my Dear Sir,
Very truly yours,

GEO. BROWN. A few days after this letter was written, the Reform Convention met at Dresden and nominated Mr. Brown. In reply to the letter informing him of the result, Mr. Brown wrote as follows:

TORONTO, Oct. 2, 1851. MY DEAR SIR, -1 duly received your letter announcing the result of the Dresden Convention, which, I assure you, very much surprised me. I had not the least expectation of such a result. I am much obliged to you and other friends for your exertions in my favour.

With yours I received a letter from Chatham stating that I had no friends there, that I had not the ghost of a chance, that some prominent reformers will vote against me, and that the Roman Catholics will to a man go against me. Of course I take all this cum grano, but I am the last man to divide the party interest. I have no personal object to gratify in the matter, and unless the electors generally want me, I assure you I don't want to trouble them. I am ready to do anything for the cause, but I am sure I can be better employed here, firing away in the Globe and perhaps affecting several counties, than canvassing Kent with a divided party supporting me. I am entirely in your hands. Your committee, of course, know the county and could not be deceived as to public feeling on the subject. Unless all go with the movement it would be wrong to proceed ; wrong in any one, but doubly wrong in me, who must preach union to others many times ere the elections are over. Write me fully, and believe me

Yours truly,

GEO. BROWN. Such were the views he entertained that time regarding the acquisition of a seat in parliament. The unselfish spirit shown in that correspondence only increased the determination of the electors of

a

Kent and Lambton to elect him as their representative. Mr. Brown ultimately accepted the nomination, with the understanding that he was not to spend more than two weeks in the county. A few weeks after the action of the convention, Messrs. Baldwin and Lafontaine retired from the Government. Mr. Hincks was entrusted with the formation of the new administration, and succeeded in getting two of the most demonstrative reformers against the policy of the Baldwin Lafontaine government, in the persons of Hon. Mr. Cameron and Dr. Rolph, to join his government. Mr. Cameron and Caleb Hopkins were among the earliest to manifest their discontent with the do-nothing policy of Mr. Baldwin at a time when Mr. Brown and the Globe were freely supporting that government. These two gentlemen were attacked with great vigour by the Globe, and sarcastically dubbed the "clear grit” party, a term which has since then found a permanent place in our political nomenclature, embracing in its more extensive application the originator of the appellation. Mr. Cameron deeply resented the attacks made upon him, and immediately after Mr. Brown's nomination intimated his intention to oppose him. Mr. Cameron was at that time the sitting member for Kent, but had publicly informed the electors that he intended to contest Huron at the coming election, thus leaving them free to make another choice. Mr. Cameron was personally popular in the county, and believed he could easily defeat Mr. Brown with some candidate of his own. He accordingly brought out Mr. Arthur Rankin, of Sandwich, as a reform candidate, while Mr. Larwill entered the field as a straight Tory. Mr. Cameron had miscalculated his own strength in the county as well as the influence of the Globe. He attended a few of Mr. Brown's meetings, and finding an almost universal determination on the part of the liberals to support Mr. Brown, he abandoned the county and all hope of electing Mr. Rankin. Mr. Brown, by his eloquence, but above all by his evident, earnestness, made a most favourable impression wherever he spoke.

Mr. Cameron at one or two meetings promised to support Mr. Brown, if he would pledge himself to support the new administration. This Mr. Brown declined to do, unless the ministry avowed their intention to deal with the great question of the clergy reserves, rectories, representation, sectarian schools and money grants. Mr. Cameron not being in a position to make any promises, demanded the candidate's support purely on the ground that the government was a liberal one, and therefore entitled to the support of all liberals. The electors, however, were not disposed to forget that four years ago Mr. Hincks and his colleagues had been elected on a distinct policy, and that many of the most important measures embraced in that policy had not been dealt with, though essential to the peace of the country and the existence of the liberal party.

« PreviousContinue »