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capacity for complete self-government, far less tu put in operation the only principles upon which a free and intelligent people could be successfully governed. Lord Metcalfe, who succeeded them, was wholly unsuited for the duties of a constitutional governor, from the natural bent of his mind, as well as from the nature of his experience in public life in India and Jamaica. Although an English Whig by his British party connections, he was an autocrat in spirit, and almost immediately on his arrival in Canada he showed his determination to practise what he believed. Apart altogether from the question of right, there was something almost ludicrous in the assumption of this average Englishman that he was better informed and more capable of understanding Canadian affairs, and judging of the persons to be appointed to offices, than were the able Canadian public men he had as ministers. So it was, however; he boldly detied ministers and parliament; a crisis had come which must be met, and the struggle restored to active political life much of the acerbity which had characterized pre-union conflicts, and which it was undoubtedly the desire of Lord Sydenham and Sir Charles Bagot to extinguish.
The bitterness of a previous dominant faction whose governing power had been necessarily destroyed by the new, though imperfect, system established after Lord Durham's visit, was as yet by no means uprooted. The remnants of this faction immediately attached themselves to the skirts of the despotic Governor : they felt that they had now a potential leader. They recalled former times when ihey
sat by the flesh pots” and “ did eat bread to the full," and lamented the evil days and principles which brought them " forth into this “wilderness, to kill the whole assembly with hunger.” This class were very zealous and, perhaps, in their own estimation, patriotic ; defenders of the usurpation of anthority by His Excellency, they saw much to gain and nothing to lose by vigorously taking up his cause.
At this time the restrictions which surrounded the exercise of the franchise limited very much the political power of the people, and correspondingly increased that of the governing authority. Ecclesiastical questions occupied much of the public mind, and assumed proportions of greater or less magnitude in connection with popular rights and the recognition of perfect religious equality, as the ruling party were for or against legislation required to place all churches on an equality in the eye of the law. The champions of the quasi church establishment which had seized the national university and held the greater part of the clergy reserve lands, exhibited as bold and selfasserting a tone as ever. Combinations of clerical magnates and prominent lay disciples sitting in high places, striving to secure denominational superiority, if not supremacy, were constantly witnessed, and challenged the attention of all liberal patriots.
The struggle for freedom in religious questions from state control, which had been many years maintained by the majority in the Scottish national church, had just terminated in the secession of that majority from the establishment. The conflict extended itself to the Canadian presbyterian body, some members of which had accepted a share of the clergy reserve funds, and had supplied a strong detachment to give a vigorous support to the Family Compact oligarchy.
It was very important that so influential and numerous a body should range itself on the side of perfect religious equality. A considerable number of its adherents strove to maintain the then existing state of affairs, and naturally ranged themselves on the Governor's side, though the vast majority held and acted on anti-state church principles, so far as related to this colony, whatever may have been their abstract views as to establishments. All the retrogressive elements of society were called into active life in order to sustain the reactionary GovernorGeneral. There was a sudden resurrection of evil principles of government which were supposed to have been buried too deep to be restored. The barricade of vice-regal power was deemed sufficient to shelter those who aided him in degrading the true legitimate representation of legislative power and the fountain of administrative authority to a secondary place in the government of the country.
Mr. Brown's advent to Canada at this juncture was, under the existing circumstances, a great accession to the liberal ranks; he was the means, to a great extent, of precipitating an inevitable discussion on all the questions involved, in a manner not previously known, and to an extent not anticipated by the leaders of either party. Some very prominent liberals in political life were more or less conservative on Church questions, and evidently doubted the right or at least the wisdom of removing an injustice which had the sanction of the law for its existence. So far as this remark applies to certain prominent individuals, it will be dealt with in another place. The field of political life was open to any enterprising publicist bold enough to do battle for the great mass of the people against a most dangerous usurpation. The ministers, whose responsibility to parliament had been treated so lightly by the Governor-General, were not themselves fully united on any course of action ; some of them openly sided with that functionary. The press was feeble and ineffective, and therefore rendered but little support to the ministers who did understand the true nature of the crisis, and the necessity of at once meeting the issue challenged by the highest authority in the land. The field so invitingly open for press and orator was at once taken possession of by the new-comer; and very soon the name of George Brown was identified with the most vigorous action and the most powerful newspaper writing ever known in Canada. That action and advocacy very
soon commanded an influence more powerful than had ever been evoked by any one man, and remains to this day strongly impressed on Canadian public life. At this day it seems strange that so much vigour and laboured effort should have been necessary to resist an unconstitutional exercise of power by the representative of the Crown in Canada ; but we must remember that this was precisely the kind of action which up to a very late period commanded the support of English ministers. So late as 1873 we find Lord Kimberley gravely
telling Lord Dufferin that he was to act without the advice of his | ministers when he deemed it necessary. Mr. Brown did not commit
the opposite fault of denouncing the fountain of authority because of the wrong exercise of power by the representative of the Crown in Canada, but opposed his action by a strictly constitutional appeal to the people, seconding in an effective manner the action of the expelled ministers.
While there could be no doubt as to the final issue in the unseemly struggle which the Governor-General forced upon the country, there remained much anxiety as to the duration of the interregnum during which constitutional authority would practically be suspended. The final disposal of great measures of reform, such as the clergy reserves and King's College questions, which had agitated the country su long, were necessarily delayed. The struggle for irresponsible power absorbed all the attention and exhausted the mental resources of the Governor-General and the imbecile administration which succeeded the government that resigned on September 30th, 1843. For over two months there was no minister but Mr. Dominick Daly, who agreed with his late colleagues in all their acts and measures, until they gave effect to their principles by resigning, when he determined to remain in office. For the succeeding nine months the ministry consisted of Messrs. Viger, Daly and Draper. Practically there was no government until after the general election in the autumn of 1844. The GovernorGeneral in the meantime defended himself as best he could by means of letters and pamphlets, some of which were written by one gentleman who had once been a liberal M.P., and who found his well known inordinate vanity gratified by defending the usurping Governor. Some were written by a reverend gentleman whom few would have suspected of a willingness to defend conduct like Lord Metcalfe's. Both gentlemen had in early days been warm defenders of popular rights, though now enlisted in the ranks of the defenders of absolutism. One was shortly afterwards appointed to a highly lucrative office, and though it was vehemently asserted that the office was not the price of the advocate, the public could not avoid connecting the one with the other, to the great disadvantage of the appointee. The lay apostle made himself 'friends in the ranks of his former opponents. The
works of both in controversy have neither literary nor political merit; one only wonders on reading them how they ever attracted any attention. By such aid, and the personal influence of the GovernorGeneral, the conservative government succeeded in obtaining a majority of two at the general election, and were thus enabled to maintain a precarious and turbulent existence. But it was utterly powerless to promote useful legislation; nor did it seriously attempt the task. That government expired, in a manner worthy of its existence, in March, 1848. It was the offspring of the revolutionary act of the chief executive ; the members, whatever might have been their personal excellences, were politically the mere creatures of the partisan Governor. As such they assumed office, though they knew that their predecessors refused to remain there on such humiliating terms.
The chaotic state of political life vas aggravated by the sectarian and denominational discussions brought on by the determination of the temporary beneficiaries of the elergy reserve funds to ignore the settlement which had been made under the Imperial Clergy Reserve Act of 1840, and secure the right to divide the land itself and lease portions, to form permanent endowments. Sir Francis Hincks says “that for the re-agitation of the question the bishops and clergy of the “Church of England were chiefly, if not wholly, responsible.” This naturally provoked counter action on the part of the reformers and voluntaries, who declared, through Mr. Price, that "vesting the land “ in ecclesiastical bodies was an infliction that the country could not "and would not bear.” The “infliction," however, seemed for a time to be imminent. The agitation from the first was conducted with great zeal and skill by the veteran Bishop of Toronto, whose great talents commanded respect, and, although he failed in his original plan to some extent, he had not, as now became manifest, given up the hope of securing some sort of ecclesiastical supremacy for himself and his clergy, though keenly opposed by many of his own communion. The time seemed favourable to accomplish his object. A reactionary Governor was at the head of affairs ; prominent men in the Church of Scotland supported the Governor ; the beneficiaries in that church from the clergy reserve lands were willing to uphold the demands of the sturdy Bishop.
Events afterwards proved that the public mind was not so quiescent as the agitators had calculated on, for although Lord Metcalfe proposed to vest the lands in the several sects, Mr. Sherwood failed to get an address passed to procure a new Imperial Act to authorize a division of the land.
While the agitation provoked by the ecclesiastical dignitaries referred to greatly embittered public discussion, it also had this effect it aided the advocates of perfect religious equality and the voluntary principle in giving shape to their demands for the repeal of the Imperial Act, and the restoration to Canada of the right to deal with the whole question of religious endowments.
Many able writers were engaged in the Examiner and other news papers in combating the advocates of exclusive rights; but it is doing them no injustice to say, that the Messrs. Brown, senior and junior, were the most trenchant and accomplished writers who had yet appeared on the questions involved.
The entire population of Canada West, in 1844, did not exceed 600,000. In one respect it was much easier reaching them, as the population was generally congregated in districts comparatively easily reached by water. The large population now in the counties of Grey, Bruce and Simcoe, fill a region then almost without an inhabitant. It was therefore much easier for a vigorous public man, by personal contact or through the press, to reach the mass of the people than it is now even with the aid of railways. When Mr. Baldwin led the reform party he knew, more or less, nearly every man who took an active part in political discussion, and in an emergency--such as preparing for a sudden general election-he could communicate with most of them personally. Mr. Brown, as the chief journalist of the time and the coming leader, enjoyed the same advantage ; and it may be doubted whether at a later period, when the country was practically larger, even his indomitable energy could have resulted in accomplishing in so short a period the secularization of the clergy reserves, and later in securing representation by population and the adoption of the federal system. It will be admitted by his warmest friends that the times favoured him as a great popular advocate ; and his bitterest enemies will equally admit that he made a most admirable use of his abilities and influence ; by which he left his mark in ineffaceable lines on the history of his adopted country.